Travel Weekly recently published the 2012 Consumer Trends study and I encourage everyone to take the time to read it thoroughly. It is a fantastic insight into the mindset of your customer. Some of the results are very encouraging, some are alarming, and some are quite honestly surprising.
Perhaps the most encouraging statistic was that consumers who use a travel agent, book more trips and spend more money on them. Go team! The unspoken corollary to this is that when you have a customer, you should be reaching out to them and presenting travel ideas all the time. Mine your database—one of the cardinal rules of salesmanship.
We need to do better as an industry. The survey asked about the reasons for selecting a particular method of booking travel. 56% have used a travel agency and were satisfied. We have some work to do because right on our heels are the online agencies with 55% who have used them and were satisfied. Direct bookings represented the highest percentage with 74% (not too surprising) but the Big-box retailers (Walmart, Target, Sam’s Club, etc.) came in with a 64%. I know as an industry we can do better than those guys!
While many suppliers (in particular cruise lines) have been offering insights into their direct booking numbers, this study seems to paint an opposite picture. While the cruise lines have said that their direct bookings range from the teens to 25%, this study from consumers indicates that it is 39% with agents representing 34%! Perhaps more surprising was that 58% booked an escorted tour with the supplier and only 13% through an agent. Air and hotel was predictably high. If indeed these numbers are accurate, we may witness an even more concerted push from suppliers to go direct to the consumer. It is critical that an agent’s value is demonstrated to both the consumer as well as the supplier. We cannot let either of them feel that there is a better way—we know better.
What do you think? Does your local market seem to reflect these findings? What surprised you in the study? Leave a comment!