Travel agents need to work harder at understanding customers

Abta Travel Conference: Travel agents need to sharpen their use of customer insight and relationship management if they are to avoid losing bookings.

Holiday trends.
Travel agents need to sharpen their use of customer insight and relationship management if they are to avoid losing bookings, says Abta research.

Abta’s annual trends report shows a dip in positive attitude towards “travel professionals” . The trade body’s latest study shows 52 per cent of the poll agreeing that booking with professionals can save time but only 25 per cent agreeing “they have a better holiday” when booking through a travel agent.

While travel agents are popular with younger consumers aged 16-24, with half of this age group booking at least one overseas holiday with a travel agent or tour operator, the percentage drops to 42 per cent across all age groups.

A list of what consumers consider booking essentials also saw booking with “a well known name in the industry” drop out of the Top 10 drivers in 2013. Top of the list remain safe accommodation and financial protection.

Abta head of communcations Victoria Bacon says the research shows that travel agents have a greater opportunity to understand what their customers like and make more relevant suggestions.

The number of holidays taken at home and abroad by Britons fell slightly for the year to August compared with the same period in 2012 with a particularly noticeable drop among young people, according to the research carried out by Arkenford.

The combination of a hot summer in 2013 and the financial situation of younger people had an impact on overall holiday numbers.

Young people aged 18-24 took on average one holiday less per person in the year to August  2013 than in the same period a year earlier, although this age group still takes the most holidays per year.

More young people than previously took a holiday with their family, suggesting they are relying on the “bank of mum and dad” to fund their breaks.

Use of technology to book holidays has stayed steady with 49 per cent of the poll buying online compared to 48 per cent last year. However, there was a small dip in use of mobiles and tablets, down from 24 per cent to 20 per cent, with the majority choosing to book via a PC or laptop.

There is more optimism about 2014 with 19 per cent of the poll saying they intend to spend more on their holidays  next year compared  to 16 per cent who said they would spend more last year.

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