In July 2017, the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) released the 2017 How America Travels National Study which surveyed 1,522 U.S. travelers of all generations on their perceptions on travel and travel agents. Here are three key things you should know from the study.
Surprise! There’s a lot about millennials. So let’s talk about them first.
Millennials AND baby boomers are both key demographics for you as an agent, mostly due to the size of each generation. The two generations travel very differently, so it’s key to know how to work with both.
The study found that millennials travel more for leisure than Gen Xers and baby boomers. That’s important for you to know because there’s a general perception in the industry that millennials want to do everything themselves when it comes to planning their vacation, and that they don’t see the value in using a travel agent. But more than half of the Millennials surveyed by ASTA said they felt favorably about travel agents, more so than Gen X and Boomers said they did, proving that perception as false! So if millennials travel more and want to use travel agents, that makes it easy for you to start serving that market.
So when millennials travel, what do they do? They generally enjoy the typical vacation like other generations, traveling either by car or plane and staying in a hotel. But what may be surprising to you is that the ASTA study found that millennials may be more into cruising than you think, as 90% of millennials who have gone on a cruise either strongly (61%) or somewhat (29%) like cruising.
More than 25% of Americans surveyed did not take a vacation in 2016, with boomers saying this the most. Not one vacation. What an opportunity for you as an agent! This could even be your leading question for a new or prospective client: When was their last vacation? Why have they waited so long? Then present them with the trip of a lifetime that they just can’t pass up. Or even offer up a quick trip to Montego Bay for three nights at an all-inclusive. Make it easy for them to say yes and book it with you. You just need to get the right opportunity in front of a prospective client that they just can’t say no to.
And now some questions and answers to help you plan when your clients are actually going to use their vacation time. What are Americans looking for from their vacation? Relaxation and quality family time were the two biggest things, followed by seeing natural and historic sights. What are the biggest deciding factors for travelers when looking for a hotel? Unsurprisingly, price and comfort are the top two. After those, whether or not a hotel has free Wi-Fi is the next deciding factor, making it more important than location, star-rating and the ability to earn loyalty points.
Most importantly for you to know, what benefits do travelers want most from their travel agents? Room upgrades, insider tips and flight upgrades top the list. What’s not important is free champagne or wine at check-in or free access to airline or hotel lounges, so you don't need to worry about lining up those perks.
Yes, the term “travel agent” still resonates, according to the survey respondents. “Travel specialist” and “travel advisor” are also good titles. So if you’re over calling yourself a travel agent, consider the other two, but don’t stress about it too much because it’s still a relevant term.