A new report by Skift Research claims that travel review websites (such as TripAdvisor) and destination websites rank as the two most important sources of information when trip-planning among affluent advisors. In Skift Research’s U.S. Affluent Traveler Survey, the group named the former the most important factor (48 percent), with the latter followed close behind at 42 percent. What stood out to us, however, was that only 10 percent of affluent travelers used the aid of traditional agents.
The fact that only 10 percent of these travelers are using advisors should not be a knock on the industry—it should be seen as a positive. Luxury Travel Advisor sees it as a place for tremendous growth in the industry.
The report also noted that despite affluent Americans making up just 20 percent of the total population, they account for 51 percent of all travel expenditures. This equates to $110 billion—or $4,200 per person—per year. One-third of these Americans are taking at least four trips (including at least one international) per year and are valuing experiences over hotel stays (so say two-thirds of those surveyed). This mimics what other travel companies—such as Travel Leaders and Expedia—are saying.
According to the study, nearly half (46 percent) of affluent travelers agreed with the phrase: “Staying loyal to brands I like is important to me,” and that 42 percent state their top reason for loyalty is the overall quality or product or service. Thirty percent say that price and perceived level of value ranks second among the most important loyalty factors. Providing excellent service and creating value (whether that’s saved money or time) is exactly in the luxury travel advisor’s wheelhouse.
If advisors can begin tapping into the 90 percent of travelers who are booking their own travel, and show how useful a professional can be, roughly half should stick with booking travel through an advisor. As we mentioned in our recent luxury travel advisor roundtable, the future is looking bright.