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The number of people who say they’ve used a travel agent to book a trip has rebounded slightly in recent years, and increased interest from millennials in agents may have contributed.
In the last year, 22 percent of Americans from households earning more than $50,000 booked travel through a travel agent, an increase from 14 percent just three years ago, according to new research from the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA). Millennials are more likely to use an agent than any demographic group of older travelers, surprisingly.
“Millennials are leading the way in travel agent usage,” said ASTA president Zane Kerby. “Thirty percent have used a travel agent in the last 12 months, and they’re also most likely to recommend agents to a friend.”
A striking 45 percent of millennials polled said they’re likely to recommend a travel agent to a friend or family member. Overall, about two-thirds of those polled across all demographics said using an agent makes their trip better.
ASTA’s survey, which was conducted by TNS Global, reached out to 14,000 U.S. households with household income above $50,000.
Other takeaways from the report show that consumers who use travel agents generally spend more on travel than those who book trips themselves.
“Travel agent users tend to have more travel budget,” said Kevin Wang, ASTA’s director of research and industry affairs. “They’re going to travel agents to plan for more complex trips or international trips or to places where they have not been. They realize using a professional travel agent can enhance the overall travel experience.”
Agencies that have a robust online presence are most likely to be used by millennials, according to the survey data.
“Most of millennials are very well-connected, so they indicated they usually search online or on social media [when looking for a travel agent],” said Wang. “When travel agents or [travel management companies] have a prominent online presence, they’re more reachable by millennials.”
While ASTA wouldn’t break out what kind of travel agents were being used the most, Kerby conceded that the travel agent space at large still faces an identity crisis.
“Consumers don’t have a picture in their heads of what a travel agency looks like,” said Kerby. “It’s important for ASTA and other important industry players to keep agents in the public consciousness.”