Do you remember the turn of the Century when the doomsayers predicted the end of the physical travel agent was imminent? As we left the nineties behind us and entered the noughties, we were all led to believe the new digital players and online travel technology would leave the traditional bricks-and-mortar agencies for dust.
16 Years On
Fast forward 16 years and the offline agency community is alive and kicking worldwide – we needed the expertise and personal touch that only real-life travel professionals could provide after all. And funnily enough, it’s the new wave of travellers, now commonly referred to as Generation Y or the ‘Millennials’, that is helping drive travel agent success.
This immensely influential consumer demographic, which is roughly characterised by those born between 1980 and 1996 (aged 20 to 36), presents a medley of complex but exciting opportunities for the travel industry. Not only is this the fastest growing demographic in the world from both a workplace and marketplace, accounting for more than 34% of the global population, according to research firm Viacom, but contrary to popular belief, Millennials like booking with agents.
In fact, recent research conducted by the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) reveals Millennials are more likely to use an agent than any demographic group of older travellers. “Millennials are leading the way in travel agent usage,” confirms ASTA president Zane Kerby in an interview with travel trends firm Skift. “Thirty per cent have used a travel agent in the last 12 months, and they’re also most likely to recommend agents to a friend (45 per cent of those polled).”
Overall, an overwhelming majority of Millennials (around two-thirds of those surveyed), say using an agent made their trip better. The survey, conducted by TNS Global, reached out to 14,000 US households with an annual household income above US$50,000.It found that last year, 22 per cent of Americans from these households booked through a travel agent, up 14 per cent from just three years ago.
The report also discovered that consumers who use agents generally spend more on travel than those who book trips themselves. “Travel agent users tend to have more travel budget,” according to ASTA’s director of research and industry affairs, Kevin Wang. “They are going to agents to plan more complex trips.” Agencies that have a robust online presence are also more likely to be used by Millennials, the survey data revealed.
ASTA’s survey is not only a confidence booster for the traditional agent, but clearly provides pointers as to how agents can drive more sales from the Millennial crowd. The two key takeaways are that agents require strong online visibility and need to be able to put together complex itineraries using their product knowledge and the latest travel technology.
How Technology Can Help
This is where industry-specific technology providers like Traveltek play a vital role in supporting the trade. We have been working travel agents and tour operators for almost two decades and offer a suite of cutting-edge solutions that can dynamically package every component of a complex itinerary on one user-friendly platform, in many languages and currencies.
All agents need to do is hand-pick the products and services they require – from flights, hotels and cruise, to transfers, tours and more – and we take care of the rest. Millennials are time poor, but increasing cash rich, and if agents can provide them with a tailor-made travel itinerary quickly and efficiently, they will improve loyalty and drive sales. And of course, Gen Y is tech-savvy and smartphone-reliant, so Traveltek will make sure your web presence is up to date, up to speed and mobile-friendly.
Call us today to find out how Traveltek can help you make the most of the Millennials.