Travel Agents: Don't Ignore Them

By Robert King General Manager, Travel & Hospitality, ClickSquared | March 20, 2010

Weren't travel agents supposed to have disappeared by now, gone the way of the dinosaur and the VCR? At least that's what travel experts have been prognosticating for the past decade. After all, how can a travel agent compete against the likes of Orbitz, Travelocity, Kayak, Trip Advisor, and other "do-it-yourself" sites? To be sure, the number of agencies has declined during this past decade – close to 50% based on ARC retail locations.

But to a travel industry marketer it's far more meaningful to determine what portion of the market this channel still represents. In Phocuswright's 2008 Travel Agency Distribution Landscape, travel professionals still accounted for a substantial portion of the market, including:

85% of cruises
70% of all tours and packages
50% of all airline
tickets
30% of all hotels
25% of all car rentals

Source: 2008 PhoCusWright Travel Agency Distribution Landscape Report

While the percentage of indirect bookings can vary by organization depending on geography, target market, business/leisure mix, and brand strength, the travel agency segment still matters. Their impact is even more substantial when you include group and meeting planners. In fact, for many travel & hospitality providers, travel agencies still represent a major – if not the largest – channel for guest bookings. Your indirect bookings may be larger than you think.

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