Latest Business Impact Analysis Shows a Surge in New Customers as Young People Look to Book with Travel Agents

• Almost a quarter of respondents reported new customers aged between 18-34
• 84 percent of respondents continue to invest in their business with marketing and technology the top two areas
• 72 percent of travel agents concerned with economic climate having an impact on their business

The latest Business Impact Analysis conducted by The Advantage Travel Partnership across its travel agency partners has revealed a huge increase in people looking to book their holidays with travel agents.

88 percent of Advantage travel agent partners who took part in the survey are seeing an increase in new customers, as travellers seek help to customise and plan their trips this year. Almost a quarter of respondents said these new customers are aged between 18-34.

Continued travel disruption with strike action in the UK and issues across European airspace has seen consumers turn to travel agents to ensure that they have the support of human touch point should their travel plans are disrupted.

Despite the rising cost of doing business 84 percent of respondents indicated that they are continuing to invest in their businesses with marketing and technology the top two areas they’re investing in. 36 percent of respondents said they were heavily investing in marketing and 24 percent in technology, and a quarter of respondents said they are using AI to support with their social media activity.

The Business Impact Analysis has also shown that 72 percent of travel agents are slightly concerned about the economic environment having an impact on their businesses, with the top three areas of concern around continued cost of living rises, pricing and consumer confidence.

The Business Impact Analysis also showed that a third of respondents also still have outstanding loans as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and a quarter of respondents stating that operating costs have increased between 25% and 49% in the last six months. Whilst revenue declined dramatically during the pandemic, staff were busier than ever dealing with rearranged and cancelled holidays, meaning that agents were not able to benefit from the furlough scheme.

The challenges of recruiting staff following the pandemic, also continues to be an area of concern with 48 percent of respondents still struggling to recruit while 64 percent of respondents said pricing of holidays is also having a slight impact of the growth of their business.

In terms of government support for the sector, the survey highlighted that the continue to be overlooked when it comes to economic support and representation from the government. 88 percent of respondents think that travel is not seen as a key economic driver, 56 percent of respondents admitted that they don’t think that the government understands the travel sector. 64 percent of respondents want a minister specifically responsible for outbound tourism.

Julia Lo Bue-Said, CEO of The Advantage Travel Partnership said: “Given the increase in new customers and managed travel programmes that our travel agency partners are seeing, and the fact that bookings are exceeding 2019 levels, we anticipate that there will be a record number of calls and visits to travel agents across the UK as people look to book their next trip with a local, trusted expert. It’s wonderful to see that although some disruption has persisted throughout the year, the desire to travel among brits has not abated. With current demand and a positive outlook for 2024 our members are continuing to invest in their businesses to grow customer bases.”

“Whilst the results of our Business Impact Analysis shows that our agency partners and TMC’s are seeing growth, it also shines a light on the pressures that small and medium size businesses continue to face as a hangover of the pandemic such as increasing costs and staff shortages. The UK Outbound Travel industry is an incredibly valuable sector to the UK economy. By virtue of the fact it sells outbound travel, often gets overshadowed by ministers who consider it as a sector taking money out of the UK.

“Travel agents are best placed to help consumers navigate booking holidays that account for their various needs, desires, concerns and budgets Whilst the critical role TMC’s play in facilitating managed travel for their corporates has never been more evident. What is reflected in the results of our latest Business Impact Analysis is that people are continuing to prioritise travel and that consumers have found there really is no substitute for agents who act as advisors, who know their clients and can provide expert consultation, support and peace of mind.”

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