Consumers positive about agents and package holidays

Package holidays still have a future despite financial setbacks facing leading operators, new research reveals.

And many people still have a positive perception of high street travel agents.

Almost a quarter (23%) say they find it quicker and easier to use a travel agent, 21% appreciate the expertise and in-depth advice they have to offer and 23% feel agencies offer a more personal experience.

Eight out of ten people (79%) have either taken a package holiday or are open to taking one in the future, according to the poll of 2,000 people.

Millennials aged 25-34 are the most likely to have taken a package trip in the past year (55% against 28% of Britons over 45).

As many as 87% of those aged 18 to 44 have either taken this type of holiday or are interested in doing so in the future.

A quarter of those who have taken a package holiday (26%) saw value for money as the key benefit, while 20% liked that all the organising was done for them and 18% enjoyed the peace of mind and protection on offer via Abta and Atol if anything were to go wrong.

The research also found that travellers are open to a wider range of experiences than ever as package holidays – a third (35%) would be willing to take a cruise, while a quarter would be open to a safari (24%) or a trip to dangerous or difficult locations where independent travel might be tricky (23%).

Caroline Brosnan, head of marketing at creative and media agency eight&four which commissioned the study, said: “High street travel agents could make a big comeback if they play the market right.

“Consumers on the whole recognise their value as experts and like the idea of speaking to a real person, which can sometimes be difficult with online travel booking sites.

“The key challenge to overcome is the perception that they are expensive.

“As recent results suggest, high street travel agents need to adapt their offerings to suit the information-hungry millennial audience and budget-conscious Gen Zs if they are going to weather the storm.”

She added: “The package holiday has reinvented itself as a relevant, budget-friendly option for young, price-conscious holidaymakers.

“As the number of holidays taken by 18-34s per year increases, the need for a hassle-free trip to be part of that mix has become really important – whether that’s enjoying the indulgence of an all-inclusive, choosing a flight and hotel combo to avoid endless paperwork or discovering new experiences offered by a specialist package holiday.

“But whilst this presents a fantastic opportunity for package holiday brands to continue to evolve over the long term, the impact of Brexit does seem to be affecting holidaymakers’ decisions over the short term.”

One in five respondents (19%) said that Brexit had made them more likely to take a staycation in the UK.

Those aged 25-44 are feeling the effects of Brexit the most, with 33% taking a domestic break in favour of avoiding travel abroad, as opposed to only 12% of over-45s.

Political unrest and crime are the issues most likely to put off UK holidaymakers from visiting other countries (64% and 62% respectively).

However, more than a third (39%) are also repelled by a poor human rights record, 29% by environmental damage and around one in five (18%) by gender inequality in the destination country.

But only a third (33%) of millennials said that political unrest would stop them visiting a particular country.

They are the most likely age group to instead be repulsed by social and gender inequality or a lack of LGBTQ+ rights.

MoreTravel agency closures drop to just 87 in 2018


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