Consumers report that travel agents save them an average $452 per trip plus four hours in travel planning, and help them avoid costly mistakes, according to new research about to be released by the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA).
When looking back on their past travel experiences, 63% of consumers polled said using an agent makes their overall trip experience better; 69% said agents save them time in planning and booking; 66% said agents help them avoid costly mistakes, and 64% say agents find the better deals.
According to the survey, travel agents lead all other booking channels for selling river cruises, and are tied with online suppliers for selling ocean cruises and tour packages. Agents also scored well for selling all-inclusive resorts and travel insurance, again nearly tying with online suppliers.
"This study dispels the myth that booking direct with suppliers or spending hours online yourself gets you a better deal, or gives you a happier travel experience," said ASTA President and CEO Zane Kerby.
The study, "Best of Both Worlds: Quantifying How Travel Agents Save Consumers Time and Money," was funded by Carnival Corporation and conducted by market research firm TNS Global. Detailed findings and a final version of the survey will be available on ASTA.org by May 30.
In the past 12 months, nearly half of consumers polled (47%) booked travel through supplier websites, followed by 25% who used online travel agency websites, and 23% who booked through travel agents. That 23% was the highest share in the past three years.
Nearly half (47%) of consumers who have not used an agent in the past 12 months said they would if the agent could save them money.
ASTA is releasing the results in honor of National Travel and Tourism Week May 1-7. In addition, ASTA's sister brand, the National Association of Career Travel Agents (NACTA), is declaring the month of May "National Travel Consultant Month."