Bricks and mortar travel agents continue to fend off the threat of online, remaining by far the “favoured option” for consumers booking an overseas holiday although that position is weakening, according to new research.
A new study by Roy Morgan showed that in the year to June 2014, 4.72 million Australians took an overseas holiday in the last 12 months. Of those whose last trip was overseas, almost 47% were found to have booked through a traditional travel agent, as compared with just 16% that had used on online travel agent (OTA).
“Bricks-and-mortar travel agents remain a favoured option for booking overseas holidays, offering a level of personal service and in-depth knowledge that online sources can’t beat,” Roy Morgan consumer products account director Angela Smith said. “And this potentially holds the key to staying competitive in the rapidly evolving travel and tourism market.”
However, the research also showed that the online travel market continues to strengthen with the figures revealing the proportion of people booking through a traditional agency has declined from 71% in 2007, when OTAs only accounted for 6% of bookings.
The number of consumers booking travel directly with airline and hotels is also on the rise. climbing from 24% to 35% and from 18% to 29% respectively.
“Australians’ changing holiday-booking behaviours are a natural result of our society’s increasing use of, and reliance on, digital technology,” Smith continued.
“With the continued penetration of laptops, tablets and smartphones, this trend towards using the internet to book and research travel is unlikely to abate any time soon.”
For domestic holidays, the pattern was found to be completely different, with only 8% of travellers using a traditional travel agent to book, and 10% using an OTA. Overwhelmingly, travellers took their travel arrangements into their own hands with 18% booked direct with an airline and 34% booking accommodation directly.
Interestingly, 27% simply turned up at their chosen destination without any bookings at all.