More than twice as many Australians would consider booking their next holiday or leisure trip with Harvey World Travel than with helloworld, according to a study by Roy Morgan Research.
The Roy Morgan Holiday Track Survey (Australia) April 2014-March 2015 indicates that 6.4% of respondents favoured HWT whereas only 3.1% favoured helloworld.
The irony is that the helloworld brand was launched 18 months ago to replace the company’s four original brands: Harvey World Travel (HWT), Jetset Travel, Travelscene and Travelworld. In fact, the other brands still survive, but the Roy Morgan finding indicates that helloworld, the over-arching brand, still has some way to go in gaining recognition.
Responding to the findings, helloworld pointed out that its prompted brand awareness had trebled in just 12 months to 34% since its 14 February 2014 consumer launch.
“Importantly, this is based on research with 1200 pre-qualified respondents who intend to travel within the next 12 months, who are the key decision makes in the travel process and who are 25 years or older,” a company statement said.
The Roy Morgan research is based on responses from Australians aged 14 years and over from March 2014 to March 2015 (so starting just a month after helloworld’s consumer brand launch).
Other Roy Morgan findings show that although booking holidays and accommodation online is now well and truly mainstream among Australians of all ages and technological inclinations, traditional travel agents retain an important place in the nation’s tourism industry.
Not only do several agents with bricks-and-mortar presences feature among the most popular travel agents/tour operators used by Australian holidaymakers, but many Australians say they would consider using them for their next trip, according to the latest Roy Morgan Research State of the Nation report.
Flight Centre flies the flag for bricks-and-mortar agencies, but a swag of online travel agencies (OTAs) existing in cyberspace rather than on high streets, also ride high in the Roy Morgan listings.
In the 12 months to June 2015, 13 million Australians aged 14 or over (or two-thirds of the population) took at least one holiday. Data from the latest Roy Morgan Research State of the Nation – which contains an in-depth spotlight on the tourism industry – reveals, unsurprisingly, that Flight Centre was the top travel agent/tour operator used by holidaying Aussies during this time.
With a comfortable lead over both its online and bricks-and-mortar rivals, Flight Centre, Australia’s biggest travel agent, was used by 9.4% of the population for a holiday at least once between July 2014 and June 2015.
In second place, perhaps more surprisingly, is dedicated online agent Booking.com, used by 5.8% of Australians; ahead of booking websites Wotif.com (5.2%), Webjet.com.au (3.7%) and Expedia.com.au (3.2%).
Well down the list (in 11th place overall), helloworld was the second-most popular travel agent with a bricks-and-mortar presence, used by 1.3% of Australians, with other chains Harvey World Travel (1.3%) Escape Travel (1.1%), and STA Travel (0.7%) bringing up the rear.
Flight Centre’s lead is even more resounding when it comes to the travel agents/tour operators that Australians would consider using for their next trip. Almost a quarter (23.6%) of the population say they’d consider using the chain, well ahead of Wotif.com (10.9%), Booking.com.au (10.0%), Webjet.com.au (9.4%) and Expedia.com.au (7.2%).
Again, other agents with bricks-and-mortar stores feature among the top 15, but none come close to Flight Centre in terms of popularity.
Commenting on the findings, Roy Morgan Research chief executive Michele Levine said the latest State of the Nation confirmed that Flight Centre’s long-standing position as Australia’s leading travel agent remains unchallenged.
“Having such a strong brand presence (more than two thirds of the population have heard of the company) certainly helps, as does the fact that it has a comprehensive online offering on top of its traditional stores.
“Other bricks-and-mortar travel agents such as Harvey World Travel and Escape Travel haven’t done as well, even though the former also has a high recognition rate (almost 60% of the population have heard of it). With Australians increasingly booking part if not all of their holidays online, it is imperative that travel agents adapt and evolve to remain relevant in the digital age.
“Our data indicates that it is not all doom and gloom for bricks-and-mortar chains: not only do Australians still use them (albeit to a much lesser extent than 10 years ago), but many are open to the idea of using them for their next trip. Particularly for overseas travel, when specialist knowledge and personal service are often required, bricks-and-mortar agents have the edge over their strictly online rivals.”
Written by Peter Needham