American Society of Travel Advisors Releases 2018 “How America Travels” StudyPress Releases - News - ASTA

Contact: Erika Ritcher
Pr@asta.org

American Society of Travel Advisors Releases 2018 “How America Travels” Study

Findings reveal growing consumer need for destination expertise, help with complex trips as agents transition to advisors

Alexandria, Va., December XX, 2018 – The American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA), the leading organization representing travel advisors in the U.S., today released a groundbreaking study tracking perceptions of the American traveler. This year’s wide-ranging study includes key insights into the travel ecosystem, including emerging trends related to the use of “sharing economy” services, new daylight into the consumer travel planning and booking processes and changing consumer needs as travel agents transition to travel advisors.

Funded by Carnival Corporation & plc, this year's national study, “How America Travels,” reached 2,879 American Millennials, Gen Xers and Boomers, including both consumers who did and did not use a travel advisor in the past 12 months. The results will help ASTA members better communicate their value proposition when marketing themselves to potential new and existing clients.

Key Findings

 Travel Advisors Provide Destination Insider Insights, Custom Services: Consumers increasingly turn to travel advisors as sources of “insider” destination expertise and custom services, moving travel advisors’ role within consumers’ travel planning journey “upstream” away from the booking stage, and closer to travel planning and inspiration.

While consumers turn to travel agents first and foremost to find the best deals on travel, those who have and those who have not used travel advisors view these professionals primarily as sources of expert destination insight and high levels of custom service.

 Supporting statistics:

  • While finding the best deals is the top reason consumers gave for using travel agents (33%), expert/insider information on destinations is ranked as the top reason for using travel advisors (42%);
  • While 42% of consumers ranked expert/insider information on destinations as a main reason for using a travel advisor, only 20% listed insider knowledge of destination as a reason to use a travel agent;
  • Other top reasons for using a travel advisor among advisor users are providing high level of service (39%), having someone to assist if travel disruptions occur (35%) and booking an unfamiliar destination (32%); and
  • Top reasons for travel advisor non-users to start using one include help booking unfamiliar destination (42%), expert/insider information on destinations (40%), access to hotels, airlines and cruises (33%) and upgrades and/or amenities (33%).

Data points contrasting travel advisor and agent users vs. non-users:

  • Travel agent users are twice as likely to splurge on airline tickets as non-users (16% vs. 8%) and more than twice as likely to splurge on cruises (15% vs. 6%);
  • Travel agent users are more than twice as likely to extend business trips with leisure (“bleisure”) than non-users (62% vs. 27%) with an average of 4.5 days added;
  • Travel agent users are more satisfied with frequency of vacations than non-users (68% vs. 45%); and
  • Travel agent users are much more likely to use sharing economy services than non-users (56% vs. 34%).

“We approached this year’s study, funded by Carnival Corporation, with a greater focus on the changing landscape for travel and the factors shaping that change, with an eye toward helping advisors understand the impact of increased consumer choice on consumer behavior,” said Zane Kerby, President & CEO of ASTA. “This is part of our commitment to be an advocate for travel and travelers, as well as for our travel advisor members.”

“The good news for our members is that we’re seeing the U.S. travel market’s eighth consecutive year of growth in 2018,” continued Kerby. “Americans’ interest in travel remains strong, and we’re confident that the U.S. travel economy will continue to grow. At the same time, it is clear that your vacation experience will be better when you use a travel advisor. Across all ages and demographics, those who travel advisors report higher levels of satisfaction – in fact, 91% of travelers who use a travel advisor rated the quality of their vacations with a top score.”

More Findings

  • Have Demand, Will Travel: A strong desire to travel at least once a year, and as often as possible, dominates the travel attitudes of past-year travelers.
  • Destination Unknown: Where to go, how much is it going to cost and who’s coming along are the most important questions that need to be answered at the early outset of vacation planning. Destination (i.e., Top 2 rank: 82%), price (61%) and availability of travel companions (23%) are the top three factors which come into play when travelers are considering a vacation. This is an area of opportunity for travel advisors.
  • Timeline for Booking: The study shows that most travel booking occurs three months before departure. As considerations of destination, travel budget and travel partners take shape, travelers move into actual travel planning and booking. Half (50%) of overall leisure travelers start planning their vacation trips within three months of the trip, and more than half (61%) book their trips during this same planning/booking window. Generally speaking, travel planning windows of younger travelers were shorter than those of older generations. While more than half (54%) of Millennials plan their vacation travel within three months of departure, this numbers dips to 46 percent among Boomers.

ASTA members can view both the full report and an executive summary at ASTA.org/ResearchReports. Members are also invited to register for a members-only webinar on the report as well as international travel generally on December 18, 2018 at 2:00pm ET. Members of the press interested in more information are encouraged to contact Erika Richter, ASTA’s Communications Director, at pr@asta.org.

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Research Methodology

The 2018 American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA) Consumer Research was conducted via an online survey methodology using a sample of 2,879 U.S. adult travelers from the Kantar TNS Lightspeed Research consumer panel, including both consumers who did and did not use a travel agent in the past 12 months.

Respondents were all screened as:

  • Adults (18+) who traveled overnight and stayed in paid accommodations for leisure travel purposes in the past 12 months;
  • Household income of $50,000 or higher;
  • Quota of 1,000 set for Millennial travelers in order to gain insights into the emerging travel segment; and
  • Quota of 50%/50% set for travelers who have ever cruised vs. never cruised as adults to gain deeper insights into cruise and non-cruise travelers.

Research Sponsor

ASTA thanks Carnival Corporation, an ASTA Proud Partner, for sponsoring ASTA’s consumer research for the fifth year in a row. As a longtime ASTA Proud Partner, Carnival Corporation is building on its exemplary track record of helping agents better understand today’s consumers and supporting research that benefits all ASTA travel advisors.

ABOUT ASTA
Rebranded in 2018 as the American Society of Travel Advisors, ASTA is the leading global advocate for travel advisors, the travel industry and the traveling public. Its members represent 80 percent of all travel sold in the United States through the travel agency distribution channel. Together with hundreds of internationally-based members, ASTA’s history of industry advocacy traces back to its founding in 1931 when it launched with the mission to facilitate the business of selling travel through effective representation, shared knowledge and the enhancement of professionalism. For more information about the Society, visit ASTA.org. Consumers can connect with an ASTA travel advisor at TravelSense.org.

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