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Tech savvy travellers still need agents


A new survey from Travelport finds that smartphones are the new personal assistant for international leisure travellers, while traditional travel agents still have a role in providing complicated itineraries.

Travelport conducted an international survey providing insight into how digital leisure travellers plan and book their trips, their use of technology and social media, and how travel agents can rise to the challenge of their evolving needs throughout their trips. 

The need to stay connected and a heavy dependence on mobile technology was clearly indicated by the growing number of smartphone users.  According to the survey, 87% of those aged 35 and under (digital natives), and 80% of those 36-45 (digital immigrants), owned or planned to purchase a smartphone in the next six months. This increased access to the internet anytime, anywhere, is changing the expectations, demands and behaviours of leisure travellers.

All travelers displayed higher levels of interest in accessing travel and destination information before a trip, treating the smartphone as a “personal assistant.”  In total, 60% of the ‘digital natives’, consider a smartphone to be their ‘personal travel assistant or companion’ enabling interaction to take place at any time.   Both groups prefer to access pre-travel information via mobile technology, rather than through traditional devices. This indicates the importance of travel itineraries that can be integrated with other apps, and formats that are easily read on mobile devices.

Despite the increasing trend to self-booking, both groups of leisure travellers reported they are becoming increasingly confused with the amount of information on the web and were more likely to engage with a travel agent for complex trips. 

Though the role of the travel agent usually ends before tourists depart, the survey revealed growing interest from mobile users in receiving more promotional offers on hotels, dining offers, airport information and recommendations while they were away. In fact, 41% of travellers indicated they wanted to receive more relevant offers, which creates opportunities to sell client services while on holiday.

Travelport conducted parallel studies with over 2,500 leisure travellers and 1,000 travel agencies in eight countries: Australia, Canada, France, Germany, India, UAE, UK and US. The research was conducted in mid-2012 through an online survey email invitation to leisure agencies, and by the use of a third party panel company to consumers.

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