More than half of overseas holidaymakers from the UK took a package trip in the 12 months to August, and almost one in five of all holidays – including domestic breaks – were booked in a travel agency.
Research for Abta among almost 2,000 consumers found 53% of those who took an overseas holiday bought a package, up from 47% in 2015 and more than 10 percentage points up on 2011.
Fewer than half (46%) said they booked travel and accommodation from different travel companies.
The research found the growth in package sales “driven by the youngest and oldest age groups”. Almost two-thirds (63%) of those aged over 65 took a package holiday in the 12 months to August, compared with 47% in 2015.
At the same time, more than half (55%) of 18-24-year-olds who holidayed abroad went on a package, up from 46% a year ago.
Package holidays also attracted more affluent consumers, with almost two-thirds (62%) in the highest-earning social grade A taking a package holiday abroad in the 12 months, up from 39% the previous year.
The biggest reason for the increase was a desire to “have everything taken care of”, with 73% of respondents who took a package identifying this rationale, up from 46% in 2015.
“Best value for the price” was the second-biggest reason, identified by 59% – five points up on the previous year. Financial protection was also seen as important by 29%, almost double the 16% rate of a year earlier.
Bookings in-store were up two percentage points year on year to 19%, with more affluent households (35%) and those with young families (37%) most likely to book in an agency.
Abta noted use of high street retailers “falls with age”, with the over-65s least likely to book in store (13%). However, over-65s were most likely to book over the phone (38%).
The research found people most likely to book in-store for destinations new to them and for holidays of seven nights-plus.
Victoria Bacon, Abta director of brand and business development, said: “It’s clear many people value the advice, guidance and expertise offered by travel experts in-store.”
Asked why so many young people choose to book in an agency, she said: “In-store booking is often related to confidence and to budgeting. A lot of young people go in groups and it’s easier than one person having to collect all the money. Also they can state a budget and the travel adviser suggest options.”
Abta chief executive Mark Tanzer said: “The growth in popularity of the package holiday is testament to the diversity of types of package now available.”
The Abta Holiday Habits Report is based on an online survey of 1,962 UUK consumers by research firm Arkenford in August.