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Travel Habits of Millennials: Only 10 Percent Used a Travel Agent Last Year

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Skift Take

There are hints that while millennials have largely moved away from traditional travel agents, there are use cases that require them and sub-cultures that will continue to use them one way or the other.

— Rafat Ali

Last year we tracked the travel habits of Americans with a series of surveys and ended it at the start of this year with a bleak picture of an overworked and under-vacationed country.

thomThis year we are starting a new series focused on a demographic that a lot of brands, including travel brands, are trying to understand: Millennials. Yes, that much-discussed demographic that is apparently different than anyone group that preceded them. The digital natives. The mobile-first generation.

Over this year, we will do a series of consumer surveys at regular intervals probing various travel habits of American millennials, and mix it with habits of their European counterparts as well. The millennials are not one-size-fit-all and brands across the spectrum are trying to figure out various nuances in their consumer behavior. Our series will attempt to look at both the macro and micro picture of their travel habits.

First in the Travel Habits Of Millennials 2015 series is an age old question travel industry has asked many times before: do traditional travel agents still matter? So our question, posed to about 750 American millennials: “Have you used a travel agent to book a leisure trip in the last 12 months?

The topline answer from the Skift survey: Only about 10 percent of millennials said yes, they had used a traditional travel agent in the last year, while another 6 percent said they did prior to that last year window. A full 84 percent of American millennials haven’t used a travel agent at all.

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This is in stark contrast to a survey travel marketing firm MMGY did almost exactly a year ago, which said that 28 percent of millennials they surveyed used a travel agent in the last 12 months, nearly three times more than our survey results show. The study went on to extrapolate that more millennials will adopt using traditional travel agents in the years ahead.

Digging a bit deeper in the demographics of our survey:

  • Along the male-female divide, slightly more American male millennials have used travel agents in the last 12 months than females: 11.1 percent vs. 8.8 percent.
  • The one good and intriguing piece of data, but needs further digging: the younger millennials, the 18-24 year olds, have used travel agents more in the last 12 months than the older 25-34 year old millennials: 13.3 percent vs. 7.7 percent.
  • Millennials in the U.S. Northeast have used a travel agent in the last 12 months more than any other region in U.S. (16 percent) while the U.S. South has used it the least (7.3 percent).
  • Urban American millennials have used travel agents slightly more in the last 12 months than rural or suburban populations.
  • Turns out the richer millennials ($150K+ income a year) are using traditional travel agents more than any other income bracket: 33 percent of them.

Important: This online survey — not served to Skift users — was administered to about 750+ members of the U.S. adult internet population, in the age range 18-34, in March 2015, through Google Consumer Surveys. The methodology is explained here.

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