Despite a wealth of online resources, travel agents remain an important and valued resource for travel planning. That's according to a recent survey from global travel insurance and assistance provider Mondial Assistance USA, which is known in the industry for its Access America brand of travel insurance. The survey found that most Americans (70 percent) say they would consider using a travel agent to plan important trips and special vacations.
Nearly one-half of respondents (45 percent) say that they would consider using a travel agent for an unfamiliar or exotic destination, while a similar proportion (40 percent) would consider using a travel agent for a longer or more complicated itinerary (i.e. multiple destinations). Others say they would consider using a travel agent for finding a great deal or best price (38 percent), for tours (33 percent), in order to save time by not having to plan on their own trip (29 percent) or for some other reason (7 percent). Just three in ten (29 percent) say that they would not consider using a travel agent when planning a trip.
While just 6 percent of respondents say that they get most of their trip planning information from travel agents, that proportion is slightly higher than those who get that information through other means including TV or radio (4 percent), newspapers or magazines (4 percent) or direct mail and brochures (3 percent).
Almost two in 10 (17 percent) say that using a travel agent for planning travel is more important than in the past, and another 8 percent say their importance has stayed the same. Interestingly, retired individuals are most likely (22 percent) to say that travel agents are now more important than ever, as are lower-income (household income less than $25,000 a year) Americans (22 percent).
For every-day and ordinary travel, online seems to be the preferred way of researching travel. Thirty-four percent of respondents use online travel agencies (OTAs) such as Orbitz, Cheap Tickets, etc. while 20 percent use online search engines such as Google and Bing. Others use review sites such as Yelp and TripAdvisor (10 percent).
Respondents also identified trip planning sites such as NileGuide or Travel Muse (9%), destination websites (5 percent), airline /cruise line/hotel website (4 percent), chamber of commerce or government sites (4 percent), social media (2 percent), blogs (1 percent), forums (1 percent) or some other (6 percent) website as information sources.