Travel Agents

New data reveals Top 10 travel agents with likelihood of return business

Daisy Melwani

When it comes to Airbnb, you’ll find two camps of people -those who love it or and those who loathe it, depending on which side of the business model they’re sitting on.

Either way, you can’t deny it’s rise in popularity and the disruption it has triggered across the global tourism industry – just last week Airbnb launched a new feature, ‘Trips’, aimed at offering local tour experiences for guests, and clearly a leap for the home-sharing model into other areas usually reserved for conventional travel agents and tour operators.

The latest Roy Morgan data reveals that the San Francisco-based company is also ticking a lot of boxes for Aussie travellers, more so than travel agents or booking services.

The research reveals more than eight in every 10 Aussie holiday-goers who used Airbnb in the last 12 months would consider doing so again for their next trip, a higher proportion than any other travel agent or booking service.

The data found 38% of Australians use a travel agent (including booking sites and tour operators) at least once in an average 12 months, and Flight Centre (used by 9% of the population) took the top spot for bricks-and-mortar travel agencies just ahead of online accommodation booking website, Booking.com (8%). Wotif.com (5%) is the third-most popular travel agent, with Airbnb (4%) nipping at its heels.

However in the case of Airbnb, it can almost certainly expect repeat business, unlike the others. The data showed 83% of holiday-goers who used Airbnb in the past 12 months would consider doing so again, ahead of 76% of Flight Centre customers and 75% of Booking.com customers. Seven in every 10 people who used Wotif.com would consider booking through them again on their next holiday.

“Regardless of how many customers a travel agency gets through its doors (or website), what ultimately matters is whether these same customers are satisfied enough to use the agency for their next holiday,” Roy Morgan Research, Norman Morris, Industry Communications Director said.

Top 10 travel agents with highest likelihood of return business

airbnb

* NB: travel agents include booking sites and tour operators. Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), August 2014-September 2016, n=30,084 (inc. 10,727) who used travel agent.

Expedia.com.au (75%) and Agoda (74%) can also be confident of some return business from recent customers, while Helloworld (73%) and Escape Travel (71%) were the only other bricks-and-mortar travel agents in the Top 10.

“As the latest Roy Morgan figures show, the ever-popular Flight Centre can count on more than three-quarters of its recent customers coming back for more. Meanwhile, Airbnb is impressing its customers so much that almost 85% are likely to return! Having just launched their brand-spanking new Airbnb Trips initiative, which offers holiday activities, they are clearly planning to expand their influence even further, encroaching on more conventional travel agency territory,” Morris said.

Roy Morgan last reported on the topic in 2014, and since then both Airbnb and Helloworld are new entrants to the Top 10 travel agents with the highest likelihood for return business, as is Trivago (67% of their customers report that they’d consider using them again next time).

Meanwhile, STA Travel (62%, down from 73%), Hotels.com (62%, down from 69%) and Zuji (64%, down from 66%) have lost considerable ground since 2014.

“Nearly 80% of all holiday-goers who used a travel agent in the last 12 months say they’d consider using one for their next holiday too: encouraging news for industry players, if they play their cards right. What’s more, a customer satisfied enough with a travel agency to use it again is also likely to be a good source of word-of-mouth promotion, recommending it to any friends or family planning a holiday—a kind of knock-on effect,” Morris said.

“Identifying those Australians most likely to be receptive to their brand is crucial for travel agents wishing to build relationships with both existing and potential customers, and Roy Morgan’s ground-breaking profiling tool Helix Personas can help them do exactly that. For example, people from the inner-city dwelling, high-earning New School Cool persona are 165% more likely than the average Aussie to use Airbnb on their next trip, attracted no doubt by its ‘hip’ factor as well as its innovative approach to holiday accommodation.

“In contrast, Helloworld holds particular appeal (twice the national average) for Rural Rewards: mostly older, conservative couples based in the country and enjoying their new-found freedom as empty nesters. This group would appreciate Helloworld’s bricks-and-mortar stores, and its full-service capabilities, spanning flights, accommodation, holiday activities and even cruises,” Morris said.



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