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High Street Travel Agents Regain some Ground in 2011

There was an 8 per cent increase over the past 12 months in the number of holidays booked on the high street. Are reports of the death of travel agents exaggerated?

It has long been one of the post-internet world’s articles of faith that the high street travel agent is a dinosaur, not long for this world. There’s a number of reasons to believe this, of course. The advent of online booking and price comparison has given more travellers the power to track down and book cheap holidays tailored to their precise requirements than ever before. Cheap flights, cheap hotels and car car hire can all be accessed easily with a click of the mouse and many small holiday operators find it far easier to sell direct to customers without having to go through travel agents.

Recent research suggests that it might be a little premature to write off the high street travel agent, however. The 2011 ABTA Consumer Trends Survey found that over the past year, the number of Britons booking cheap holidays with a high street travel agent increased from 17 per cent to 25 per cent – with more young customers choosing this option.

Researchers found that 32 per cent of 16-24 year-olds had used high street travel agents in the past 12 months, compared with just 15 per cent of 45-54 year-olds. Women were also more likely to opt for cheap holidays via a high street agent, with 31 per cent making this choice in 2011, as opposed to just 19 per cent of men.

However, 25 per cent said that they had booked holidays via a website, and a whopping 43 per cent admitted to booking cheap flights direct with airlines and had booked accommodation online directly via the provider’s own website.

The conclusions we can draw? Although high street travel agents cannot be written off just yet, the inexorable rise in the popularity of internet holiday booking cannot be denied – the convenience, ease of use and cheaper prices continue to speak volumes in terms of influencing the booking choices of UK holidaymakers.