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Travel Agency Statistics 2023

 

Explore Travel Agency Stats on Industry Trends, Bookings, Sales, Fees & More!

 

In 2020, the world travel and tourism sector suffered a massive loss of nearly $4.5 trillion due to COVID-19, with accommodation and travel agencies seeing the sharpest decline in turnover during the first lockdown, falling to 9.3% of their February levels in May 2020. Many high street travel agents were forced to close numerous stores, and remote home working has changed how some travel agents operate.

 

What is clear is that, although the industry took a huge hit now travel has opened again there is a bigger demand for travel agents and the support they can provide for any travel issues or cancellations customers may face and they offer a bigger peace of mind for those booking travel.

 

Read on for more on this industry as we take a dive into the statistics below.

KEY TRAVEL AGENT STATISTICS:

 

In 2020, the world travel and tourism sector suffered a massive loss of nearly $4.5 trillion due to COVID-19.

Accommodation and travel agencies saw the sharpest decline in turnover during the first lockdown, falling to 9.3% of their February levels in May 2020.

UK-based STA Travel was forced to close in mid-2020, closing more than 50 shops.

Australian travel agency Flight Centre closed 421 out of its 740 stores.

76% of travel agents saw an increase in customers in 2021 compared to before the pandemic, with 81% saying they were hearing from customers who had never used a travel agent before.

27% always or often used a travel agent prior to the pandemic. But 44% said they were more likely to use a travel agent after the pandemic is over.

As of 2023, there are over 400,000 people employed in the Travel Agencies industry in the US. 

The market size of the travel agency industry worldwide reached $475 billion U.S. dollars as of January 2023.

Top travel companies often collaborate with hotels and restaurants to ensure mutual growth. For this reason, commission acquired from associates makes up 78% of the revenue in this industry.

Agencies can save customers on average $452 per trip as they have access to promotions and deals from suppliers that travellers do not.

66% of travellers say that their agent helped them avoid costly inconveniences and mistakes.

55% of travellers have said that they must have sought out information from too many sources before deciding.

TRAVEL AGENCIES POST COVID-19

How did COVID-19 impact Travel Agencies?

In 2020, the world travel and tourism sector suffered a massive loss of nearly $4.5 trillion due to COVID-19.

More than 43% of travel agencies said that they had laid off or furloughed three-quarters or more of their staff.

Accommodation and travel agencies saw the sharpest decline in turnover during the first lockdown, falling to 9.3% of their February levels in May 2020.

As of June 2021, revenues for travel agents and tour operators were consistently down between 86-90% each month since February 2020. 

26,800 travel agents and tour operator staff were still on furlough on July 31, 2021.

57% of SME travel agents said they would not be able to survive more than 3 months based on June 2021 trading conditions and Government support.

 

A huge number of businesses had to close during and post-COVID-19. Lack of revenue and high demand for refunds has taken its toll on many traditional travel agencies. 

 

UK-based STA Travel was forced to close in mid-2020, closing more than 50 shops.

Australian travel agency Flight Centre closed 421 out of its 740 stores.

German tour operator TUI closed 166 stores throughout the UK and Ireland in 2020, and a further 48 in 2021.

British travel company Hays Travel closed 89 of its stores following the UK’s third national lockdown in early 2021.

Upside Business Travel was the first major business-focused travel agent to go out of business when it ceased operations in 2021.

 

Since vaccinations and travel restrictions eased the industry has started to recover, but with some changes.

 

76% of travel agents saw an increase in customers in 2021 compared to before the pandemic, with 81% saying they were hearing from customers who had never used a travel agent before.

27% always or often used a travel agent prior to the pandemic. But 44% said they were more likely to use a travel agent after the pandemic is over.

As of 2023, there are over 400,000 people employed in the Travel Agencies industry in the US. 

The market size of the travel agency industry worldwide reached 475 billion U.S. dollars as of January 2023.

Roughly 201.4 thousand businesses operated in this market, while this industry employed approximately 2 million workers.

Covid had a catastrophic impact on travel agents, with the industry coming to a halt in 2020.

Where a huge amount of job losses and furloughs took place, those left in the travel agency industry were left to deal with the fallout of cancelled trips and refunds, putting a huge amount of pressure on those still employed.

 

Travel agencies used various tactics to deal with the outbreak.

 

  • 74.8% preferred to reduce costs.
  • 48.8% started to operate in non-tourism areas.
  • 39.1% focused on digitalization
  • 27.3% used methods such as changing the business market and product portfolio.

 

It has been determined that Covid-19 causes a decrease of 81% or more in the turnover of most of travel agencies (59.5%).

 

Due to the uncertainty, COVID brought with it, travel agents have become planners and providers, offering customers more security if things go wrong with a trip. Most customers expect travel agents to have a plan if things go wrong and manage issues for them, taking the worry and pressure off.

It’s been suggested that travel agents are now increasingly playing the role of a crisis manager. Some companies even offer 24-hour text messaging support to help serve this demand.

 

Staff furloughs and remote working has allowed for an increase in independent travel agents. Many travel professionals have adapted to this new environment by working for independent contractor companies or choosing to join host agencies.

 

Traditional travel agencies may have made a comeback in 2021, but they are still facing many problems. With most consumers opting to book through online OTAs. In 2021, the online travel industry generated revenue worth more than $800 billion, with two-thirds of revenue in the global travel and tourism industry coming from online sales.

 

Although physical stores are declining, traditional companies are offering online services and support. However, competing for this business online will be tough and they will need to ensure they offer a quick, seamless, and easy journey for customers to book and browse online. Travel agencies have had to evolve, but with the rise of issues COVID caused, the services they can offer customers have increased. 

 

Sources: Travel Perk, Statista, AA, Aerospace, ONS, ResearchGateTTGMedia, National Geographic

TRAVEL AGENCY INDUSTRY STATISTICS

Do people still use travel agents?

Agent numbers increased by 10.3% from 2014 to 2016, yet the Bureau of Labour Statistics still forecasts a decline.

As of 2015, the Census Bureau found 105,085 travel agency employees in the United States.

As of January 2019, travel network Virtuoso has 17,500 advisers, up 15% year over year.

Some growth is a result of new agencies joining the Virtuoso network.

64% of Virtuoso’s growth comes from new advisers joining existing agencies.

The consolidated dollar value of airline tickets sold in the first half of 2019 by US travel agencies increased by 3.38%.

In the first half of the year, there was a 2.4% increase in passenger trips settled by ARC for US agencies for a total of 162 million.

Over the past ten years, the UK OTA market has grown from just over 10% of the market to approximately 67%.

 

On the surface, it looks as though the industry is in decline, with the total number of full-time US travel operators falling from 124,000 in 2000 to around 74,000 in 2014. Much of this is thought to be a result of search engines and other online tools opening up options and making information more easily accessible for customers. However, after researching the industry and analysing agent numbers, it seems things are changing. From 2014 – 2016 the number of agents increased by over 10%, while travel network Virtuoso reports a 15% year on year increase in advisers in 2019. It looks as though the industry could be making a comeback.

 

But how are all these travel agencies performing? The consolidated dollar value of airline tickets sold in the first half of 2019 by US travel agencies increased by 3.38%, suggesting increased ticket sales, or perhaps just increased ticket prices. In the UK, the online travel agency market has seen a significant increase to around 67% of the overall market over the last decade. These statistics certainly seem to point to a positive future for the industry.

TRAVEL AGENCY BOOKING STATISTICS

How much money do travel agents make?

The number of consumers now booking through a travel company is at its highest point in the last three years, reports the American Society of Travel Agents.

The proportion of direct website bookings fell from 79.2% in 2017 to 66.7% in 2018, while marketplace bookings increased to 9.1%, from 3.2%.

In addition, agent, affiliate and local tourist office bookings also increased from 17.5% to 24.3% in the same time period.

Of those who have been previously been on a cruise, 35% booked their most recent trip through an agent.

Airline ticket sales through traditional agencies grew by 1.8% from August 2015 through to August 2016.

 

With the industry expected to generate $17.3 billion by 2020, up from about $12.2 billion in 2010, travel agency revenue looks to be growing over time. The American Society of Travel Agents reports that the number of people booking through agents is at its highest point in the last three years, which suggests the number of agent bookings is also experiencing growth.

 

Additionally, airline ticket sales through traditional agencies have seen a relatively recent increase of 1.8% from August 2015 – 2016. This could mean that agent sales are growing in line with the increase in bookings and the industry as a whole.

TRAVEL COMPANY STATISTICS - FEES AND PRICING

How do travel agencies make money?

On average, 78% of travel agents’ revenue was made up by commission, with 22% generated by service charges.

53% of agents did not charge a fee in 2018.

In 2016, the average fee for corporate air was $33.

The top 5 hosted agent service fees were for domestic air (55.7%), international air (51.5% FIT (28.7%), rail (15.9%) and air-inclusive packages (15.3%).

 

According to the 2018 Hosted Travel Agent Fee Report, the top hosted charges were for domestic air, international air, FIT (Flexible Independent Travel), rail and air-inclusive packages. This provides good insight into how they make their money, however, surprisingly 53% of agents did not charge fees in 2018. Commission and charges aside, the agents make money through pricing up fares, commission and for the bigger agencies, compensation awarded for reaching pre-determined sales goals.

 

The average fee in 2016 for corporate air was $33 according to the ASTA Service Fee Report. This provides an idea of roughly what agents can make per booking through these extras.

 

SOURCES – HostagencyreviewsStatista

TRAVEL AGENT TRENDS – BEHAVIOUR & REASONING

What are the benefits of using a travel agent?

The most commonly cited reason for why travel operators are bouncing back is that they help customers to save time.

They can save customers on average $452 per trip as they have access to exclusive deals.

63% of people say that the overall travel experience is improved by working with a travel company.

66% believe travel operators help travellers avoid costly inconveniences and mistakes such as choosing the right airport.

It’s unlikely that travel companies would be popular if they provided no benefits over other booking methods, so what are the travel agency advantages that continually sway customers away from booking directly? In recent years and based on a survey of 14000 households, the American Society of Travel Agents,(ASTA), found that when asked why they are bouncing back, the most commonly cited reason was that they save customers’ time. In today’s busy society, it’s unsurprising that this is such an important factor to trip planners, as spending a long time can lead to frustration. Being able to outsource this to an agent would be a benefit to many.

 

The ASTA survey also found that around two-thirds of people believe that one of the benefits of a travel operator is that they help travellers avoid costly mistakes when booking. With holidays and travelling experiences being highly anticipated and often expensive, travellers will do all they can to steer clear of potential issues and inconveniences. Outsourcing the booking to a travel expert like an agent can put customers at ease.

 

Another benefit is that a travel company can help people book specific, tailored experiences for their travels. This is something that 55% of Millennials are taking advantage of as they strive for “transformative travel” that will change them for life.

 

Sources – VoxHotelmarketingDcsplus