Face-to-face recommendation is still the most popular way of choosing a holiday despite the growth of the internet, research from Mintel suggests.
Of the 1,400 people surveyed who have taken a holiday in the past five years, 34% had researched their trip by speaking to people about where they planned to visit.
Visiting a local travel agency came second on the list, with 25% of people seeking their advice when choosing a destination.
Travel agents should be making the most of this appetite for personal recommendation, said senior travel analyst Richard Cope.
“High-street agents should be capitalising on having a high-street presence. They should have engaging and experienced staff who can show their own holiday pictures rather than a brochure.
“They could be offering customers a glass of wine or coffee from the destination.”
A travel agency should be more like a bookshop, where people enjoy the experience and want to spend time, he said.
“They should be opening later and offering resources such as travel magazines and Lonely Planet guides. This way they can embrace the independent travel trend and let people have control over their trip.”
Out of 828 adults who had used the internet to plan or book a holiday, 26% had looked at pictures and videos online.
“Agents should be showing their customers 360-degree videos and even putting things like that in the window,” said Cope.
Word of mouth is also powerful online, with another 27% of respondents having used blogs and user reviews.
“The adoption of Web 2.0 is really strong. Companies such as Thomson are starting to use reviews to make themselves more transparent and that’s going to happen more and more,” said Cope.
Despite economic uncertainty, travel still remains the top priority for many people, the report found. Foreign holidays account for 70% of the market, but domestic tourism is growing and this looks set to continue.