ASTA has been a reliable source of research on the travel agency industry for many decades. We collect, collate and analyze data that is not available anywhere else on agency operations from agency business models to revenue sources. Our data can be used to pinpoint agency trends, compare and contrast agency operations, and develop marketing tactics.
Part of the American Society of Travel Agents’ (ASTA) wide-ranging benchmark reporting program, the upcoming 2017 ASTA Travel Agency Profile report provides a snapshot of the U.S. travel agency industry through ASTA agency members’ financial and operational outlook.
Positive Business Trends
With an improved economic environment worldwide after the Great Recession in the U.S., ASTA member agencies continue to report positive net profit trends over the past five years with over eight in ten (84%) agencies either realizing a profit or breaking even in 2015 (annual 2016 results will be available upon the release of the 2017 report). The percentage of agencies that reported a profit has continued to rise since 2011, indicating improved business trends post-recession. Conversely, the share of those agencies that operated at a loss or were unsure about profit/loss condition has been gradually decreasing over the past five years.
In terms of the mix of agency location and business model for ASTA member agencies, the share of home-based agencies* has grown over the past decade and surpassed the share of retail location agencies* since 2014, indicating a shift of business model trends. Meantime, six in ten of ASTA member agencies reported having employees and/or engage independent contractors (ICs).
Note: In the survey, respondents were asked to self-identify their agency location and business model. ASTA further categorizes the mix of locations and business models into four buckets: home-based agency, retail location agency, office location agency and other.
For the travel segment mix, tour packages/all-inclusive resorts combined and cruise on average represent the largest shares of agencies sales measured in dollars, followed by air. The sales mix however varies greatly between agencies based on their business models. In terms of domestic versus international travel sales, the percentage share of ASTA members agencies’ international sales has been steadily climbing since early 2000s, coinciding with Americans traveling overseas (outside North America) increasingly for the past five years post-recession.
As for ASTA member agencies’ affiliations, the percentage of ASTA agency members with a direct membership in a consortium or franchise appeared to bounce back slightly in 2016 after a 5-year decline, possibly due to the incentive for travel agencies to obtain collective bargaining power on commission levels, marketing support or sales leads through such affiliations.
Lastly, over half of the ASTA member agency owner or manager respondents have earned a certification from The Travel Institute and/or CLIA, indicating that members continue to invest in their professional certifications, training and education.
Take a look at what we have to offer, which ranges from labor issues to GDS usage to financial benchmarking, at ASTA.org/ResearchReports. And don’t forget that ASTA membership includes preferential pricing for these reports, and in some cases complimentary access. Support your national trade association and join ASTA today!
Kevin serves as Director of Research at ASTA since 2015.
Kevin brings to ASTA over 20 years of professional experience with over 12 years in the travel and tourism industry, including at the U.S. Travel Association and Choice Hotels International, where he frequently shared research insights and information at conferences and seminars with his expertise in managing quantitative and qualitative research studies, projects and programs.
Kevin earned his M.B.A. from the George Washington University and is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP).