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Do bricks and mortar travel agents have a future?

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), July 2006-June 2007 (n=1,767) and July 2013-June 2014 (n=1,945)

Could claims that the internet is killing bricks-and-mortar travel agencies be exaggerated? When it comes to booking overseas holidays, the latest findings from Roy Morgan Research reveal that more Australians still choose traditional agents over their online (and other) rivals. 

In the year to June 2014, 4,715,000 Australians had taken an overseas holiday in the last 12 months.  When we look at the booking behaviour of those whose last trip was overseas, almost half (47%) booked through a conventional travel agent, while 16% used an online-only agency.

Admittedly, these figures are quite a contrast to those from June 2007 (when 71% of people who took an overseas holiday booked it the bricks-and-mortar way and 6% booked it via  online only agencies) — but they do suggest that, even amid the proliferation of booking websites, there is a place for bricks-and-mortar travel agents who offer expert, cost-effective and comprehensive overseas options.

Booking sources by Australians whose last holiday was overseas: 2007 vs 2014 

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), July 2006-June 2007 (n=1,767) and July 2013-June 2014 (n=1,945)

Of course, there are more channels for booking an overseas holiday than just bricks-and-mortar travel agencies and booking websites, such as going directly through an airline or booking their accommodation directly. As the chart above shows, both of these methods have made considerable gains in popularity since 2007.

On the home front

When it comes to booking domestic holidays, traditional travel agents are not so necessary. Travellers can easily book flights and accommodation within Australia themselves; furthermore, many (27%) choose not to book in advance but simply turn up at their chosen destination.

In the year to June 2014, 8% of those whose last holiday was within Australia used a bricks-and-mortar travel agent to book their trip, while 10% used an online only booking agency such as Wotif.com, 18% booked via an airline and 34% booked their accommodation directly.

Angela Smith, Group Account Director — Consumer Products, Roy Morgan Research, says:

“Australians’ changing holiday-booking behaviours are a natural result of our society’s increasing use of, and reliance on, digital technology. With the continued penetration of laptops, tablets and smartphones, this trend towards using the internet to book and research travel is unlikely to abate any time soon.

 “Airlines have clearly recognised and adapted to this, making it quick and easy for travellers to book not only flights but hotels, car hire and even holiday packages via their websites. Dedicated booking websites are also gaining momentum by catering to the connected traveller, with Expedia’s recent takeover of Wotif sure to raise their profile even further.

“Amidst all these changes, bricks-and-mortar travel agents remain a favoured option for booking overseas holidays, offering a level of personal service and in-depth knowledge that online sources can’t beat. And this potentially holds the key to staying competitive in the rapidly evolving travel and tourism market.

“What’s more, with the help of Roy Morgan’s comprehensive traveller profiles, travel agents can pinpoint exactly what kind of overseas travellers would be most receptive to booking their holidays in person.”

For comments or more information about travel and tourism data available from Roy Morgan Research, please contact:

Angela Smith, Group Account Director — Consumer Products
Office:   +61 (2) 9021 9101
Angela.Smith@roymorgan.com

Related research findings

View our extensive range of Travel and Tourism profiles, including Travel Agent and Holiday Booking Reports, Holiday traveller profiles, Booked holiday through travel agent profile and more.

Roy Morgan’s travel and tourism research also quantifies the dollar-value of the tourism industry’s diverse markets; and includes detailed information and insights into what activities people look for when travelling, who they travel with, where they get their information, whose advice they seek when planning a holiday and much more.

About Roy Morgan Research

Roy Morgan Research is the largest independent Australian research company, with offices in each state of Australia, as well as in New Zealand, the United States and the United Kingdom. A full service research organisation specialising in omnibus and syndicated data, Roy Morgan Research has over 70 years’ experience in collecting objective, independent information on consumers.

In Australia, Roy Morgan Research is considered to be the authoritative source of information on financial behaviour, readership, voting intentions and consumer confidence. Roy Morgan Research is a specialist in recontact customised surveys which provide invaluable and effective qualitative and quantitative information regarding customers and target markets.

Margin of Error

The margin of error to be allowed for in any estimate depends mainly on the number of interviews on which it is based. Margin of error gives indications of the likely range within which estimates would be 95% likely to fall, expressed as the number of percentage points above or below the actual estimate. Allowance for design effects (such as stratification and weighting) should be made as appropriate.

Sample Size

Percentage Estimate

40%-60%

25% or 75%

10% or 90%

5% or 95%

5,000

±1.4

±1.2

±0.8

±0.6

7,500

±1.1

±1.0

±0.7

±0.5

10,000

±1.0

±0.9

±0.6

±0.4

20,000

±0.7

±0.6

±0.4

±0.3

50,000

±0.4

±0.4

±0.3

±0.2