The explosion of the Internet over the last decade has seen businesses and people change their habits forever. Everything is more easily available and whereas before, if you wanted something you had to go out and get it, now you can get anything from food to holidays online.
One sector that has been particularly affected by the domination of the Internet is the high street travel agent. Twenty years ago if you wanted a holiday you had to go to a travel agent and book it whereas today 66 percent of the British population book their holidays online. This is set to increase as 85 percent of people surveyed said that they plan to research or book holidays online within the next 12 months.
There are many different reasons why people now prefer to use an online travel agent rather than go into a shop. The Internet is quicker and easier- you don’t even have to leave your home to book a holiday, it is cheaper to book online, especially with last minute deals and an online travel agent is open 24 hours a day 7 days a week. This means that people can book their holiday whenever suits them and they are not restricted to certain times which may be hard to work around.
An astounding 67 percent of online British holiday makers intend to conduct most or all of their travel planning online next year while only 4 percent will avoid the internet for travel purposes. Even though these statistics are very promising for any online travel agent they are going to have their work cut out for them as market growth for the industry has pretty much reached its peak. The market is about to become much more competitive because so many people already book online so the number of people switching from a high street travel agent to online booking is going to be very small.
Travel agents and operators need to invest in websites that make the planning and booking process as quick and simple as possible and use customer generated content to build trust. This is important as only 22 percent of people trust advice from an online travel agent or holiday company.
Despite the fact that the online travel agent has undoubtedly taken over the travel industry, the need for a travel agent shouldn’t be underestimated as 46 percent of people who book online will have been to a travel agent to collect brochures which will impact on online travel decisions.
Image belongs to: Christian Bachellier. Taken from: http://www.flickr.com