Could this be an aftershock of the consolidation of online travel agencies during the past two years? Whatever the reason this can't be comforting for booking sites focused on growth when consumers say they're not the best deal in town.
Some 64% of U.S. travelers think they’ll find a better deal on a brand’s website versus 15% who trust online travel agencies with finding them the best price.
That’s one big takeaway from MMGY’s 2015 Portrait of American Travelers survey which asked more than 2,800 active U.S. leisure travelers this February about their travel booking preferences, dream destinations, and mobile device usage. All respondents had an annual income of $50,000 or more and took at least one overnight leisure trip 75 miles or more away from home during the previous 12 months.
Travelers also feel booking sites aren’t the most convenient way to book travel: only 14% think they are compared to the 67% who think a brand’s site is the most convenient booking option. These findings logically follow how respondents said they actually book travel, with 67% indicating they generally book direct through a brand’s website compared to 13% who typically choose booking sites.
This behavior isn’t exclusive to any single generation as millennials (ages 18-35), generation Xers (ages 36-49), and baby boomers (ages 50-68) all said direct bookings are how they generally book travel services.
Looking at the millennial generation, for example, shows the sharp drop-off of travelers using online travel agencies in 2015 compared to 2013 and the sharp increase in those who think booking direct through a brand’s site gets them the best price:
Millennials were the second highest percentage of respondents to say they’ll use a travel agent for at least one vacation during the next two years. (23% of Americans ages 69 and older versus 22% of millennials). Only 15% of both generation Xers and boomer respondents said they’ll seek help from travel agents.
“This shouldn’t be too surprising when you really thinking about it because millennials often want to book adventure travel or these highly experiential trips involving a lot of parts and they don’t always know how to do that,” said Peter Yesawich, a spokesperson for MMGY. “They feel travel agents will be able to help them with the complicated trip planning.”
Last year Kayak CEO Steve Hafner said booking directly on a brand’s site is the best place to buy travel services and it appears many U.S. travelers now agree with him.
Photo credit: In a new survey U.S. travelers said they feel booking direct through a brand's website is more convenient and gets them the best deals, which is good news for brands, not so much for metasearch sites like Kayak, pictured here, or online travel agencies. Kayak