Travel has become increasingly expensive and complex over the last few years. As we emerge from the pandemic, travelers are itching at the opportunity to cross items off their bucket lists. That eagerness translates to more investment in the travel experience. New data from the American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA) shows that people are increasingly turning to travel advisors for guidance and customization. With travel preferences shifting, travel advisors are more essential than ever.
The Rise of Travel Advisors
In the time before the internet, travelers frequently turned to travel agents for help booking flights, accommodations, tours, and restaurants. With the advent of the internet, though, people began taking a DIY approach to planning trips. Nowadays, there’s a veritable tidal wave of information available online about any given destination. Rather than wade through it themselves, travelers are returning to travel advisors for guidance when planning.
According to the ASTA survey, 27% of member advisors state that over half of their clients are collaborating with a travel advisor for the first time. This statistic highlights a growing trend among travelers to seek professional assistance in planning their trips. The reality is that travel advisors offer expertise, insider knowledge, and industry connections that enhance the overall travel experience.
The Importance of Expertise
The rebranding of ASTA from “American Society of Travel Agents” to “travel advisor” reflects the evolving nature of the profession. This change emphasizes the value of the professional service element, which extends beyond mere transactions. Over 50% of advisors report that their clients are now more willing to pay professional fees, recognizing the value of the advisors’ research, consultation, planning, ticketing, and overall expertise. This shift is driven by the desire for tailored itineraries, unique experiences, and peace of mind throughout the journey.
The majority of travel advisors who charge fees base them on the extent of their services, with fees typically ranging between $100 and $300. These fees are seen as an investment in quality. Travelers know they’ll receive personalized attention, optimized itineraries, and a seamless travel experience. Notably, 81% of travel advisors have reported an increase in sales compared to the previous year, indicating the growing recognition of their value.
Emerging Travel Trends
ASTA’s research also sheds light on emerging travel trends and destinations preferred by travel advisors and their clients. Ocean cruising continues to experience positive growth, with 90% of advisors selling ocean cruises and 70% already having bookings through 2024. River cruises also show promise, with 46.7% of advisors reporting bookings for 2024. Travel advisors remain crucial in navigating potential challenges such as flight delays and cancellations, which 86.8% of advisors believe could impact their clients’ travel plans.
In terms of popular destinations, Europe, the Caribbean, and Alaska are leading the way. Alaska has surpassed Mexico and Hawaii as the preferred North American destination booked by travel advisors, while top European countries include Italy, France, and the United Kingdom. In the Caribbean, the Dominican Republic, The Bahamas, Jamaica, Turks & Caicos, and Puerto Rico are the most sought-after islands.
Millennials, Gen-Z Driving Travel Industry
A glance at the Consumer Price Index might have you believe that Americans are concerned about travel costs. We’ve seen a 17.7% jump in airfare, an 8.8% jump in food away from home, and an 8.1% jump in lodging. Despite these price hikes, the younger generations are more eager than ever to explore the world.
ASTA data reveals that Millennial and Gen-Z consumers are 22% more likely than the average American to spend more on travel this year. 30% of Americans say they’ve made international travel plans in 2023, with Millennials and Gen-Z travelers being the most eager to travel abroad in the short term. When asked about plans for 2024, that figure jumps to 42%.
Would You Use a Travel Advisor?
As travelers continue to prioritize unique experiences and peace of mind, the role of travel advisors becomes increasingly essential. The data from ASTA shows that travelers are not only willing to spend more on travel but also recognize the value of the skills and knowledge that advisors bring to the table. By collaborating with these experts, travelers can ensure that their trips are tailored to their preferences, well-planned, and seamlessly executed. As the travel industry evolves, travel advisors remain an indispensable resource for those seeking to create unforgettable memories.
This article The Rise and Fall (and Rise Again) of Travel Advisors originally appeared on Wander With Alex. Featured Photo Credit: [vadimphoto1/DepositPhotos]
Chelsea DeAngio is a freelance writer based in Greensboro, NC. Inspired by a rootless childhood as a Navy brat, she enjoys traveling every chance she gets. Pop culture often drives her trips. Whether channeling her inner Lady Mary at Highclere Castle in the UK or noshing on nachos at Showgirls filming locations in Vegas, Chelsea is always in search of a little silver screen glitz.