Less than a third of people (31%) use travel agents to book a UK trip compared to 50% for travel abroad, a new study shows.

Consumers associate agents with the following terms ‘exciting, inspiring and enjoyable’ and less so with convenience or efficiency, according to the poll of 1,000 people.

This suggests online booking agencies need to adopt the same values, according to marketing solutions firm St Ives Group, which conducted the research.

Agents are not utilised because they make the planning process easier or quicker, but because they make it more exciting and enjoyable.

TripAdvisor is a key channel for information, especially for foreign trips, with 68% saying they found everything they need on the reviews site.

However, 35% of people booking domestic holidays think there is too much content, compared to 39% booking a foreign trip, so a content strategy is crucial, according to the research.

It found that the average person takes three leisure trips away each year – two in the UK and one abroad.

Spending time with the family and taking a break are key needs that kick-start the travel planning process, though younger travellers are more likely to be inspired by external influences such as offers and advertising, the study shows.

Online sources are key in the planning process but are used primarily for transport and accommodation planning while printed guides are used more when researching the destination and things to do.