Despite the fact that OTA’s like Orbitz and Travelocity are now responsible for about 70% of travel booking in the United States today, the individuals who work out of the brick-and-mortar travel agencies are reporting booming sales according to a recent Los Angeles Times article.

A recent survey by the American Society of Travel Agents, which represents nearly 6,00 travel agents across the country, found that most travel agents found that their revenues, bookings, and total number of clients are up in the first half of 2014 compared with the same period last year.  Here are some key statistics from that survey:

– Of the agents questioned in the survey, 47% reported higher revenue, with 27% saying revenue has remained about the same as last year.

– 45% of agents questioned reported more transactions in 2014, with 30% saying business has been about the same.

Affluent Travelers Choosing Experts Over OTAs
According to travel agents, Americans – encouraged by an improved economy and higher home values – are turning to travel agents to plan more intricate vacations.

“You book an airline seat or hotel online,” said Jay Johnson, owner of Coastline Travel Advisors in Garden Grove, California.  “But if you want to do something more exotic like go to Buton in Indonesia, you want to talk to an expert.”

The latest 2014 “Portrait of Affluent Travelers”, authored by the travel marketing firm MMGY Global, says affluent Americans will continue to be the main drivers of growth for the U.S. travel industry in the coming year, and this report provides more good news for travel agents.

According to the report, 25% of affluent travelers plan to use the services of an agent during the next two years.  This number is up significantly from 20% last year.

Among those who plan to work with travel agents, 80% say they will do so because of the agent’s ability to provide an extra level of service when things go wrong, their knowledge of destinations and travel service providers, and their ability to take the hassle out of booking travel.  Here are some other notable numbers from this particular survey:

– 50% of all leisure travelers believe that travel service providers’ websites offer the greatest convenience and best prices.  While 60% of affluent travelers visit OTAs on a regular basis to get prices and information, only 30% actually use these sites to book travel.

– Of the 60% of affluent travelers discussed above, nearly 25% turn to travel service provider websites, while almost 20% book directly with a travel service provider over the phone.

To read the entire MMGY Global study, click here.

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