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Survey reveals Australia’s new favourite travel agent

March 30, 2017 Headline News 1 Comment Email Email

Great galloping robots – guess the identity of Australia’s newest favourite travel agency!

Latest data from the Roy Morgan Holiday Tracker survey reveals the stratospheric rise of online-only operator, Booking.com, which has knocked Flight Centre out of the top slot for the first time in many years.

The shock finding comes only a week after financial group Macquarie suggested Flight Centre should close 135 retail stores throughout Australia to boost growth, a suggestion Flight Centre rejected. See: ‘No we won’t close 135 stores’ says Flight Centre

In an average 12-month period, 13.5 million Australians aged 14 or over (68.3% of the population) take at least one holiday, according to research conducted by Roy Morgan in 2016. Booking.com was the most widely used travel agent, with 9.3% of the population (just over 1.8 million holiday-goers) using it at least once. Second-most popular was Flight Centre (9%), while relative newcomer Airbnb (4.8%) took third position.

Roy Morgan pointed out that this is “the first time for many years that an agent other than Flight Centre has occupied top spot”.

Top 15 travel agents used by Australians at least once for holiday, last 12 months

 

The market research company said the finding showed how much had changed since Roy Morgan’s last travel agent findings (for June 2015) were released.

Back then, Flight Centre was the most popular agent (9.4%), well ahead of Booking.com (5.8%) and Wotif.com (5.2%). Airbnb did not then even feature in the Top 15.

In essence, the latest survey testifies to the relentless rise of online travel agents (OTAs) over their flesh-and-blood counterparts.

Another recent entrant to the market, Trivago, is also making its presence felt in seventh position (used by 2.5% of Aussies at least once in the previous 12 months). Other travel agents whose popularity has grown in the last 18 months include Expedia.com.au (3.7%, up from 3.2%), Hotels.com (2.4%, up from 2.1%) and Helloworld (2.1%, up from 1.3%).

Top 15 travel agents Australians would consider using for next holiday

Although the proportion of Aussies who used Flight Centre for a holiday in the past 12 months has slipped slightly, Australia’s largest travel agent maintains a healthy lead as the travel agent more Australians would consider using next time they take a holiday (23.4%, virtually unchanged from 23.6%).

Consideration for Booking.com has shot up from 10% to 13.6%. Wotif.com hasn’t fared as well, dropping from second-most considered travel agent (10.9%) as of June 2015 to sixth (10.3%) in 2016. Not surprisingly, Airbnb (10.7%) and Trivago (10.4%) are also shaking things up in the consideration stakes, debuting in the Top Five for 2016.

Commenting on the latest findings, Roy Morgan Research’s industry communications director, Norman Morris, confirmed that since Roy Morgan Research started measuring Australian holiday-goers’ use of travel agents and tour operators in January 2004, Flight Centre has remained the undisputed leader.

“So for Booking.com to overtake the long-term leader is big news,” Morris said.

“Bricks-and-mortar travel agents have been heavily impacted by the rise of online-only operators, with those that didn’t adapt quickly enough to the digital age soon finding themselves losing relevance. Flight Centre has long been the flag-bearer for ‘traditional’ travel agents that made a successful transition to a multi-channel service; Booking.com, on the other hand is strictly online.

“And it’s not the only web-based service to be making waves in this always competitive, ever-evolving field: as mentioned, Airbnb has seen a steep uptake since its Australian launch in 2008, and Trivago (here since 2013) is also gaining major traction with its ubiquitous TV commercials.

“Flight Centre is clearly still viewed positively by Australians, topping the ‘consideration set’ for future holiday use. Importantly, Roy Morgan data indicates that Flight Centre was more popular than any of its online-only rivals among Aussies who headed overseas on their last trip.

“While there is no denying the ease and convenience of the friction-free booking experience provided by web-based travel agents, bricks-and-mortar stores have the edge when it comes to personalised service – and Roy Morgan’s Holiday Tracker can help them identify those travellers for whom this is especially important.”

Edited by Peter Needham

Currently there is "1 comment" on this Article:

  1. AgentGerko says:

    I really object to Booking.com being referred to as a travel agent. It is a computer that makes bookings and nothing more. It does not advise or assist people, as a real travel agent does. It’s like comparing Amazon with your local book shop.

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