Travel Agent Survey Highlights Increased Demand, Emerging Destinations in Europe

As part of the Travel Agent Reception and Showcase at the annual Luxe Worldwide Hotels (LWH) Membership Conference, LWH surveyed 200 travel agent attendees on the latest industry trends. The consensus: higher hotel demand and prices for 2012, and a new focus on emerging destinations in Europe.

85 percent of the travel agents surveyed predicted that the industry would see increased demand for hotel rooms and higher prices in 2012, a sentiment that mirrors recent findings by the GBTA Foundation. Agents also noted the popularity of boutique hotels, which offer their clients a higher level of service, attentiveness and distinct style.

When asked about travel hot spots for 2012, almost half of respondents (46 percent) highlighted countries in Europe, especially Italy, France and Croatia. (For a more in-depth profile of these up-and-coming destinations, check out Travel Agent’s series on Emerging Destinations in Europe, Part One and Two.) 43 percent of respondents chose the Middle East (Turkey, Dubai, Egypt), 38 percent indicated South America (Brazil, Costa Rica) and 28 percent chose Australia/New Zealand.

When asked about where they gather information for their clients, only 39 percent of respondents talked about social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, and many said that they don’t rely on new deal sites like Groupon, Travelzoo and LivingSocial. Many agents said that they rely on personal feedback from previous clients or consumer review sites like TripAdvisor.

Finally, 72 percent of travel agents surveyed noted that, in the wake of the troubled economy, more of their clients are choosing four-star properties over five-star ones. One agent remarked, “Four-star properties are more acceptable in this market and they have spruced themselves up for this purpose.”

“The LWH Member Conference and Travel Agent Reception and Showcase are gamechangers in our industry,” said Efrem Harkham, Luxe Hotels founder and chairman. “We don’t just talk about collaboration and personalized attention—we act on it. We truly care about the needs of our members and guests and these travel agents are their eyes and ears. It is critical that we collaborate with them, include them in the conversation, and listen closely to what they are telling us.”