Could claims that the internet is killing bricks-and-mortar travel agencies be exaggerated? When it comes to booking overseas holidays, the latest findings from Roy Morgan Research reveal that more Australians still choose traditional agents over their online (and other) rivals.
In the year to June 2014, 4,715,000 Australians had taken an overseas holiday in the last 12 months. When we look at the booking behaviour of those whose last trip was overseas, almost half (47%) booked through a conventional travel agent, while 16% used an online-only agency.
Admittedly, these figures are quite a contrast to those from June 2007 (when 71% of people who took an overseas holiday booked it the bricks-and-mortar way and 6% booked it via online only agencies) — but they do suggest that, even amid the proliferation of booking websites, there is a place for bricks-and-mortar travel agents who offer expert, cost-effective and comprehensive overseas options.
Booking sources by Australians whose last holiday was overseas: 2007 vs 2014
Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), July 2006-June 2007 (n=1,767) and July 2013-June 2014 (n=1,945)
Of course, there are more channels for booking an overseas holiday than just bricks-and-mortar travel agencies and booking websites, such as going directly through an airline or booking their accommodation directly. As the chart above shows, both of these methods have made considerable gains in popularity since 2007.
On the home front
When it comes to booking domestic holidays, traditional travel agents are not so necessary. Travellers can easily book flights and accommodation within Australia themselves; furthermore, many (27%) choose not to book in advance but simply turn up at their chosen destination.
In the year to June 2014, 8% of those whose last holiday was within Australia used a bricks-and-mortar travel agent to book their trip, while 10% used an online only booking agency such as Wotif.com, 18% booked via an airline and 34% booked their accommodation directly.
Angela Smith, Group Account Director — Consumer Products, Roy Morgan Research, says:
“Australians’ changing holiday-booking behaviours are a natural result of our society’s increasing use of, and reliance on, digital technology. With the continued penetration of laptops, tablets and smartphones, this trend towards using the internet to book and research travel is unlikely to abate any time soon.
“Airlines have clearly recognised and adapted to this, making it quick and easy for travellers to book not only flights but hotels, car hire and even holiday packages via their websites. Dedicated booking websites are also gaining momentum by catering to the connected traveller, with Expedia’s recent takeover of Wotif sure to raise their profile even further.
“Amidst all these changes, bricks-and-mortar travel agents remain a favoured option for booking overseas holidays, offering a level of personal service and in-depth knowledge that online sources can’t beat. And this potentially holds the key to staying competitive in the rapidly evolving travel and tourism market.
“What’s more, with the help of Roy Morgan’s comprehensive traveller profiles, travel agents can pinpoint exactly what kind of overseas travellers would be most receptive to booking their holidays in person.”
Roy Morgan Research
Roy Morgan Research is Australia's best known and longest established market research and public opinion survey company. Roy Morgan Single Source is thorough, accurate, and provides comprehensive, directly applicable information about current and future customers. It is unique in that it directs all the questions to each individual from a base survey sample of around 55,000 interviews in Australia and 15,000 interviews in New Zealand annually - the largest Single Source databases in the world. The questions asked relate to lifestyle and attitudes, media consumption habits (including TV, radio, newspapers, magazines, cinema, catalogues, pay TV and the Internet), brand and product usage, purchase intentions, retail visitations, service provider preferences, financial information and recreation and leisure activities. This lead product is supported by a nationally networked, consultancy-orientated market research capability.
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