46% of Americans Think Travel Agents Add Value to Trips

BY Rachel Cagle
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The vast majority of Americans (75%) would consider working with a travel agent to plan their vacations, while some 27 million travelers plan to do so just within the next year, according to new research from AAA Travel. The outlook remains positive for years to come, with younger travelers embracing the expertise of travel agents. In fact, millennials are just as likely as baby boomers to say they are planning to use a travel agent for a trip in the next 12 months.

Despite continual advances in technology that allow travelers to plan and book vacations for themselves online, nearly half of Americans (46%) feel that working with a travel agent adds value to their trip. Travelers' top reasons for considering whether to consult a travel agent are to ensure a smooth experience on more complicated and expensive trips, and for recommendations and help arranging special activities and experiences.

"Whether it's a once-​in-​a-​lifetime vacation, first time overseas or an annual family getaway, travelers want to make the most of out of any trip and are relying on travel agents to ensure that happens," said Bill Sutherland, senior vice president of AAA Travel. "Although travelers today have myriad ways in which to book their vacations, they recognize the value of working with a professional, experienced travel agent to make sure there is a return on their travel investment and a lifetime of memories to be made."

Although travelers increasingly recognize the value of travel agents, there is still more opportunity for vacationers to reap the full benefits. Nearly half of travelers (49%) would consider working with a travel agent for an international vacation, but just one-​quarter (22%) would do so for a vacation within the United States.

"Even when staying stateside, travelers can benefit significantly from working with a travel agent," continued Sutherland. "AAA recommends consulting a knowledgeable travel agent before starting to plan your next vacation."

Regardless of whether or not Travel Planning Clients decide to work with a travel agent, they're likely to supplement the travel planning services with their own research. Last year, 55.7% of this audience used a search engine to research a product or service they were considering for purchase, according to AudienceSCAN. However, only 20.7% go past the first page of results. This audience is also 82% more likely than other adults to find advertising on social networks helpful to them, so they may turn to the networks they're active on, such as Facebook (83.3%), YouTube (64.1%) and Instagram (45.2%), for travel ideas.

While more than half of Americans would consider working with a travel agent to find the best deals, secure upgrades and additional money-​saving travel perks, AAA encourages travelers to keep in mind these additional benefits:

  • Save time. Travel agents can take the guesswork out of researching and evaluating the many options that are available to travelers, saving time and the hassle that often come with vacation planning.
  • Expert recommendations. A knowledgeable travel agent will make personalized recommendations and offer tips on destinations, what to see and do while on vacation, the best and worst times to travel, and much more.
  • They've been there and done that. Travel agents are often well-​traveled, having visited the destinations and experienced the vacations they recommend to travelers.
  • Reduce stress. Travel agents can help with all the details (advising travelers on everything from passport renewal requirements to recommendations for obtaining an International Driving Permit before traveling overseas) taking the stress out of the process.
  • Help with the unexpected. Between weather delays, natural disasters, flight cancellations, lost luggage and much more, a lot can happen on vacation. Travel agents act as the traveler's advocate in the event something goes wrong, helping navigate the challenge of making any necessary itinerary changes.

Travel agents can reach Travel Planning Clients through various digital advertising formats. Last year, according to AudienceSCAN, 57.1% of this audience took action after receiving an email advertisement and 54.9% were motivated by either text ads or advertisements on their mobile smartphone apps. They're also 33% more likely than other adults to click on text link ads on websites. To supplement digital advertisements, TV can also be utilized since 69.6% of this audience took action after seeing a TV commercial last year.

AudienceSCAN data is available for your applications and dashboards through the SalesFuel API. Media companies and agencies can access AudienceSCAN data through the AudienceSCAN Reports in AdMall.