Almost half of Millennial travellers who do not currently book holidays via a travel agent would use one in the future, according to research by the Advantage Travel Partnership.
The consortium conducted a consumer survey of more than 1,000 people which found that 62% of 25-34-year-olds surveyed don’t currently use an agent, but that 44% of them would now consider it.
Advantage said the results indicated advice, expertise and the reassurance of having someone to help if plans need to change were the main reasons for favouring a human over booking online.
More than a third of total respondents (38%) said that they do not usually book travel through a travel agent. Of those, 36% said they will use a travel agent in the future.
The over-65s remain the most likely group to favour the use of a travel agent (77%), followed by the 18-24 age group (76%), which Advantage said could open up a new target market for many agents.
The survey also found three quarters of respondents said that they would travel either domestically or abroad within the next 3–6 months if restrictions permitted them to do so.
The most popular type of travel experience was a UK break, followed by a European mini-break and a winter sun holiday. The data indicated that confidence to travel overseas, both for short-haul and long-haul trips, increases further into the future, with 80% of respondents saying they will travel overseas after summer 2021, 42% in February 2021 half term and 66% between the May Bank Holiday and the 2021 summer holidays.
More than half (55%) of respondents said using a double testing method to reduce quarantine to 5-10 days on arrival in the UK would provide them with the confidence to travel abroad now, while 57% said they would be prepared to pay for a test if it meant they could travel freely to a restricted destination and 32% would prefer the test to be arranged for them and included in the cost of their holiday.
Results found that the younger the age group, the more willing they are to pay for a Covid test to travel, with 79% of 18–24-year-olds saying they would while 56% of over-65s were not prepared to do so.
Data suggests more than half of people are looking for free cancellation or a rebooking option within 48 hours of departure to give them the confidence to book and travel in the next three months. About a fifth (22%) said they would currently feel comfortable booking their next holiday less than 14 days before departure.
“We know that consumer confidence has been severely impacted over the past six months, but it is reassuring to see that consumers do value the services travel agents provide and would trust them to book their travel in the future, especially among the younger age groups who historically will dynamically package their own trips,” said Julia Lo Bue-Said, chief executive of The Advantage Travel Partnership.
“Throughout the pandemic, travel agents have demonstrated their value and have often been the first port of call for travellers when things go wrong, providing that all-important human element during times of uncertainty.
“It’s also positive to see from the results that if the UK government implements a testing system, travellers would be prepared to pay for a test and would have the confidence to travel without being caught out by quarantine changes.”
She added: “We are certain that [testing] will help to repair consumer confidence and get people travelling again which is critical to the survival of many travel agent businesses up and down the country.”