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Expedia and Priceline may the leading booking sites in the U.S., but that doesn’t mean they’re powerful enough to completely silence the traditional brick-and-mortar travel agencies among all age groups.
A new MMGY Global study shows the percentage of affluent Americans who plan on booking trips through travel agents is up this year. In the next two years, 21% of Americans with incomes of $125,000 or more plan to use a travel agent, and 29% of those earning more than $250,000 will use one.
Last year, 17% Americans with incomes of $125,000 booked one or more trips with an agent, and 24% of those making $250,000 or more used an agent for booking, MMGY found.
In terms of regular booking practices, 55% of affluent Americans in both the $125,000 and $250,000 income brackets primarily book travel through a supplier’s website, while 28% use an OTA, 10% use an agent and 7% book by phone with a supplier.
Reasons that wealthy Americans said they choose to book through a supplier website versus an OTA include “better support if something goes wrong, particularly with a flight” and “more confidence that the reservation actually exists when booked with a supplier.”
But it’s not all about the rich when it comes to who’s using travel agents. Early this summer, the MMGY Global 2014 Portrait of Affluent Travelers study found 28% of millennials used travel agents between February 2013 and February 2014. Additionally, 21% of those aged 69 and older, 15% of Americans aged 36 to 49, and 13% of people aged 50 to 68 used agents during that period.
When asked if they plan on using an agent to book travel in the next two years, 30% of millennials also said yes, compared to the 27% of those aged 69 or older, 19% of those aged 36 to 49 and 16% of those aged 50 to 68. One reason 77% of millennials give for using an agent is “agents’ experience will book a better trip than one booked on their own.”
This is good news for travel agents, but online booking modes still remain the dominant options for millennials. The study found 47% of millennials used supplier websites and 41% used online travel agencies (OTAs) to book travel during the February 2013 to 2014 period.
Breakdown of Age Groups Using Different Booking Modes
|Age Group||Suppliers websites||OTAs||Travel agents, by phone||Suppliers, by phone|
Source: MMGY Global