Forecast: Travel Agents to Be in Higher Demand in 2009

Peter Yesawich, president and CEO of Ypartnership, expects more consumers to turn to travel agents when planning their trips in 2009. Meanwhile, research conducted by Ypartnership states that the travel intentions of Americans remain strong as 71 percent of active travel households are planning at least one overnight trip during the next six months— the same amount as one year ago.

"Our most recent tracking surveys reveal there is still plenty of demand for travel services in the marketplace for those who are aggressive and clever enough to capture it," says Yesawich.

Three out of 10 American travelers use the services of a travel agent on a regular basis, and, according to Yesawich, the percentage is growing as many travelers place a higher value on the time it takes to find the best options than the fee they  pay an agent to do the work for them. Consumers also see agents as "in the know" and a potential source of otherwise unadvertised deals.

Yesawich also expects consumers to demand more in exchange for what they pay by shopping aggressively to ensure they don't overpay for a good deal.  They are also more likely to purchase inclusively-priced travel services.

Mobile marketing is a 2009 trend of which agents should take note, as Ypartnership's research finds that the percentage of Americans with mobile devices with Internet access will rise quickly in the year ahead given the growing popularity of the iPhone, Blackberry Storm and similar devices. With this growth, agents can expect more travelers to plan and purchase travel services with these devices. According to the 2008 NEXTGEN Traveler survey, fully one out of four "next generation" travelers plan to use their mobile phone or PDA to make or change travel plans (other than through voice communications) in the next two years.

"The year ahead is also one that holds great opportunity for those who amend their marketing practices to reflect the manner in which consumers live, work and travel today," said Yesawich.


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