Research Insights Optimism abounds for the female-led travel agent channel

Optimism abounds for the female-led travel agent channel

February 2023
Phocuswright Research

The industry is optimistic about the return of travel and travel advisors are no different. According to Phocuswright’s latest travel research report U.S. Travel Agents: Optimism Abounds, more than seven in 10 agents have positive expectations for the upcoming year, despite issues like economic uncertainty and the elevated costs of travel (especially airfares).

As online travel penetration in the U.S. has plateaued, travel advisors have carved out their niche in the industry. Personalization - long sought by suppliers - is a keystone of travel advisors due to their understanding of clients' travel needs. Suppliers can benefit by offering products and a clear value proposition that can appeal and be customized to that base. This mutually beneficial relationship would augur well for the future of travel advisors.

The female-led, leisure-dominant travel agent segment reports an overall increase of 108% in gross bookings over the past 12 months. Emphasizing that trust is key, clients turn to travel advisors for the customer service, personal relationships, and expertise that they bring to the table. The personal relationship is especially important to independent agents (37%), while traditional agents say their customer service (36%) is what matters most.

Phocuswright Chart: Main Reasons Clients Book with Agents
(Click image to view a larger version.)

Travel advisors will continue to see momentum as categories like ocean and river cruises, tours and packages, luxury travel and group/family travel flourish.

Phocuswright has been researching the U.S. travel agency landscape since 2006. Our initial study examined the possibility of travel agency extinction. Instead, with business models changing, and new tools and technologies emerging, the need for professional, personalized services has stood the test of time. Travel agents are not only surviving; they are thriving.

U.S. Travel Agents: Optimism Abounds focuses on the current state of the travel agent community. While the pandemic tested the resilience of both home-based and traditional agencies, the value that travel agents deliver through their expertise and personal client relationships has enabled them to bounce back stronger than ever. This report provides a detailed assessment of travel agents today, including key agent demographics, booking channels and distribution, marketing and social media usage, and more.

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