It's All in the Numbers

Recently some terrific research was released that paints a clear picture of your world as home-based travel agents, and of the travel distribution landscape overall. This past month, PhoCusWright Inc., the leading research company in the travel industry, unveiled the findings of its new report, "PhoCus Wright's Travel Agency Distribution Landscape: 2006–2009." Kerry J. Cannon, Jr.

As any of you involved in the selling of travel would know, there has been a great deal of change over the past 10-plus years. What you should find interesting, and gratifying, is how important a role home-based agents have played in that shift. As a group, you represent 28 percent of all agents. According to PhoCusWright, there are 31,000 legitimate agents (not hobbyists) that are home-based. Additionally, as a group you sell more than $9.7 billion a year in travel. Wow!

The Stats

PhoCusWright, in cooperating with ASTA, ARC, CLIA and an industry trade magazine, has finally come up with some legitimate, statistically sound data to identify who you are, what you sell, how you sell it, to whom you sell it, and what the future trends look like. Some of the key findings include the following:

  • 1. Leisure travel is your focus. More than 90 percent of a typical home-based agent's business is complex leisure travel (packaged tours, cruises and FIT).
  • 2. You can be divided into two camps: those of you who are totally independent (56 percent) and those of you who are affiliated with an agency or a host (44 percent).
  • 3. It's home-based agents that are fueling the growth of our industry. With almost half of all agents over age 55, and two-thirds having more than 20 years of experience, as an industry we need more newcomers. The home-based agencies are attracting the most new blood to our industry.
  • 4. Host agencies are pulling most of those newcomers. Although the host- agency affiliated segment is smaller in proportion to the independent segment, the long-term growth of the home-based agency channel will come from this area.
  • 5. On average, you are selling in excess of $300,000 annually. Independent agents generate on average $350,000 in sales, while the hosted/agency-affiliated business averages $257,000.

There have been many surveys and studies released in recent years focused primarily on the online travel space, but the traditional agency channel—and the emerging home-based channel—has been largely overlooked by the research community until now.

If you would like to obtain a copy of the survey, it is for sale at the PhoCusWright website (

Kerry J. Cannon, Jr. group Publisher [email protected] 212-895-8247


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