When planning a vacation, most people simply rely on word-of-mouth recommendations, TV ads, or some other sort of personal experience to narrow down that perfect retreat spot. Unfortunately, this can lead to lackluster or poorly planned trips, a recent survey suggests.
That survey, which was conducted on behalf of the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA), shows that hiring a travel agent actually makes for a better vacation than one you would plan yourself.
According to ASTA's website, "Findings from the Value of Travel Agents study, which was conducted by MMGY Global, discovered that over half of Millennial (59%), Xer (53%) and Boomer (58%) leisure travelers who used travel agents believe that vacations planned with travel agents were better than those organized without their assistance."
Why would this be the case? One expert, Emily Ceruzzi, a condominium operations manager for Global Discovery Vacations, believes that experience plays a major role.
"The expertise of these agents surprises some people," she said. "Say you want to go on a ski vacation. You might know, 'Colorado,' but there are hundreds of places to ski in the U.S., thousands around the world. Agents can open eyes to new experiences by finding out what people really want and asking, 'Have you considered this place?'"
Cathy Wunder, the vice president of Global Discovery Vacations, believes that it has more to do with the work and planning involved in the vacation process.
"We keep people accountable to take their vacations," she noted. "They've paid for it and planned ahead for it, so it makes them use their time and actually go somewhere. People always say 'I've always wanted to go to such and such, but I just never planned it.'"
Wunder brings up two interesting points. Firstly, if someone else has planned your vacation, you can actually enjoy your vacation rather than spending part of each day meticulously figuring out what you're going to do. Secondly, people might go on more interesting vacations if an expert is involved in the planning process.
For instance, someone who lives in New Jersey may go to the shore every summer for one week, but a travel agent may have a way of finding that same person a flight-plus-hotel combination that allows them to go somewhere much more interesting and further away.
Lori Smith, Global Connections Travel Agency Manager, observed, "[Hiring a travel agency] stops the information overload. When you go to a travel site, there is just so much to look at, and you might not be sure you're making the right decision."
She went on to point out, "There's so much to consider, but even with self-guided tours that allow you to explore on your own, having someone map something out for you can be helpful and take some of the stress out of planning."
Despite the obvious advantages of planning a vacation through a travel agency, more than 50% of vacationers plan their respective trips with only the assistance of friends, family, and their own past experiences. According to the U.S. Travel Association, "Nearly one-quarter (23%) of domestic leisure travelers relied on friends and relatives to plan their trips, while three in ten (30%) utilized their own past experiences."
While it is likely that the average American will continue to utilize friends and family only when planning a trip, a recent survey conducted by MMGY Global reveals that over 50% of travelers who used agencies believed their vacations were improved as a result of this. That is an impressive statistic to say the least, and it could have major implications for the travel industry.