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Travel Agents - UK - December 2010

The recession has brought mixed fortunes for travel agents in the UK. On the one hand, as the demand for protection on holiday has grown (spurred by high-profile holiday company failures and spring 2010’s ash cloud airspace shutdown), bookings have actually increased somewhat as a share of the market. On the other, the recession-driven drop in overseas holiday volume has meant that the number of holidays abroad booked through agents fell in both 2009 and 2010.

This report provides an overview of the travel agents, investigating consumer attitudes towards the subject, core internal and external market factors, strengths and weaknesses, innovations of relevance, reasons for use and likely future developments.

  • Amongst travel agent users, more than one in four booked in order to make sure they were protected on holiday.
  • Travel agent use continued to decline in the lead up to the recession. However agents’ share of bookings has increased since 2008, driven by the increased desire for protection on holiday. But although this meant improvement in market share terms, the recession-driven fall in all holidays abroad meant that the number of trips booked through agents continued to drop, falling 11% in 2009 and a further 5% in 2010.
  • The proportion of consumers saying they may use a travel agent in future is low, at approximately one in five. Of even greater concern for agents is the fact that only one in five travel agent users currently plan to continue booking this way – despite the fact that one in three report being happy with their agent-booked holidays. There are, though, silver linings to these clouds – 15-24-year-olds are the most likely to consider travel agent use in future, suggesting real opportunities to generate repeat business from an early age.
  • Approximately one in four people from households earning £15,500 or less (annually) are travel agent bookers. The same percentage of non-workers are, as are one in four from the ACORN group ‘Hard Pressed’.
  • Just under six in ten travel agent users say they like to visit somewhere new each holiday, a higher percentage than online or phone-only bookers.
  • Approximately one in five people with no internet access make travel agent bookings - however approximately one-third of people with internet access also do, slightly higher than the average across the entire population. Only one in ten people do so because they feel uncomfortable/not confident enough when using the internet.

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Table of contents

  1. Issues in the Market

      • Key issues
        • Definitions
          • Abbreviations
          • Future Opportunities

              • Trend: Rules of Thumb
                • Trend: Retail Comes Alive
                • Market in Brief

                  • Booking volume declines
                    • Protection, time saving and the internet
                      • Independents ascendant
                        • New, flexible and cheap
                          • Future plans
                          • Internal Market Environment

                            • Key points
                              • Overseas holidays still falling...
                                • Figure 1: Overseas holiday volume and value, 2005-10
                              • ...but average expenditure rising
                                • Figure 2: Average overseas holiday expenditure, 2005-10
                              • Independent trips still main choice
                                • Figure 3: Inclusive tours versus independent holidays, by volume, 2005-10
                              • Where in the world?
                                • Figure 4: Overseas holidays, by region, 2005-09
                              • Protection a priority
                                • Major merger
                                • Broader Market Environment

                                  • Key points
                                    • Economic uncertainty
                                      • Figure 5: GDP, PDI, consumer expenditure and savings, at current prices, 2005-15
                                    • Age and lifestage
                                      • Figure 6: Trends in the age structure of the UK population, by gender, 2005-15
                                      • Figure 7: Forecast adult population trends, by lifestage, 2005-15
                                    • Looking past ABs
                                      • Figure 8: Forecast adult population trends, by socio-economic group, 2005-15
                                    • Online, off agents?
                                      • Figure 9: Broadband penetration, by demographics, 2004-10
                                    • Package seekers more likely to look to agents
                                      • Figure 10: Research sources used for last holiday abroad, 2005-09
                                      • Figure 11: Package holiday research sources, 2005-09
                                  • Competitive Context

                                    • Key points
                                      • Desire for holidays undiminished
                                        • Figure 12: Expenditure priorities, 2005-10
                                      • Bookings via agents shrink
                                        • Figure 13: Overseas holidays, including travel agent share, 2005-10
                                    • Strengths and Weaknesses in the Market

                                        • Strengths
                                          • Protection reputation
                                            • Rise of the ‘far near’
                                              • Youth opportunity
                                                • Specialisation motivation
                                                  • The alternative
                                                    • Weaknesses
                                                      • Independent shift continues
                                                        • Usage intentions
                                                          • Research use falling
                                                            • Internet in future
                                                              • Price perception
                                                              • Who’s Innovating?

                                                                • Key points
                                                                  • Feedback functions
                                                                    • Fly for free – and fees
                                                                      • Seeing segmentation
                                                                        • In-store innovation
                                                                          • Operators increase retail presence
                                                                          • Market Size and Forecast

                                                                            • Key points
                                                                              • Volume decline continues
                                                                                • Figure 14: Estimated number of overseas holidays booked via travel agents, 2005-15
                                                                              • ‘Make own arrangement’ growth
                                                                                • Figure 15: Method used to book last overseas holiday, 2005-09
                                                                              • Forecast
                                                                                  • Figure 16: Volume forecast of overseas holidays booked via travel agents, 2005-15
                                                                                • Forecast methodology
                                                                                • Segment Performance

                                                                                  • Key points
                                                                                    • Beach/resort bookings dominate
                                                                                      • Figure 17: type of holiday taken, by booking channel, 2007 and 2009
                                                                                    • Travel agent customers seek variety
                                                                                      • Figure 18: Holiday attitudes, by booking channel, 2009*
                                                                                    • Diversification of duration demand
                                                                                      • Figure 19: Number of nights taken for last holiday, by booking channel, 2007 and 2009
                                                                                    • Average expenditure falls
                                                                                      • Figure 20: Total cost of holiday, by booking channel, 2007 and 2009
                                                                                  • Companies and Products

                                                                                      • Advantage Travel Centres
                                                                                          • Figure 21: Advantage Travel Centres Limited UK key financials, 2008 and 2009
                                                                                        • Thomas Cook
                                                                                            • Figure 22: Thomas Cook UK & Ireland key financials, 2008 and 2009
                                                                                          • The Co-operative Travel
                                                                                              • Figure 23: The Co-operative Travel key financials, 2009 and 2010
                                                                                            • Travel Counsellors
                                                                                                • Figure 24: Travel Counsellors Ltd key financials, 2008 and 2009
                                                                                              • TUI
                                                                                                  • Figure 25: TUI Travel Plc UK & Ireland key financials, 2009 and 2010
                                                                                                • Worldchoice
                                                                                                    • Figure 26: Worldchoice UK Ltd key financials, 2007 and 2009
                                                                                                  • Kuoni
                                                                                                      • Figure 27: Kuoni Travel Limited UK key financials, 2008 and 2009
                                                                                                  • Use of Travel Agents

                                                                                                    • Key points
                                                                                                      • Booking up, browsing down
                                                                                                        • Figure 28: Use of travel agents in past two years, 2008 and 2010
                                                                                                      • The bookers
                                                                                                        • Who books what?
                                                                                                          • Information seekers
                                                                                                          • Reasons for Travel Agent Use

                                                                                                            • Key points
                                                                                                              • Protection is primary
                                                                                                                • Figure 29: Reasons for travel agent use, September 2010
                                                                                                              • Time is money
                                                                                                                • Specialisation motivation
                                                                                                                  • Offline and saving time
                                                                                                                    • Figure 30: Reasons for travel agent use, by most popular use of agents in past two years, September 2010
                                                                                                                  • Information seeker value
                                                                                                                    • Figure 31: Reasons for travel agent use, by next most popular use of agents in past two years, September 2010
                                                                                                                • Attitudes Towards Travel Agents

                                                                                                                  • Key points
                                                                                                                    • Internet for price/value
                                                                                                                      • Figure 32: Attitudes towards travel agents, September 2010
                                                                                                                      • Figure 33: Trends in key attitudes towards travel agents, 2008 and 2010
                                                                                                                    • Online vs late deals
                                                                                                                      • Convenience, protection and the future
                                                                                                                        • Users vs non-users
                                                                                                                          • Figure 34: Attitudes towards travel agents – users and non-users, September 2010
                                                                                                                        • Attitudes vs usage
                                                                                                                          • Figure 35: Attitudes towards travel agents, by most popular use of agents in past two years, September 2010
                                                                                                                          • Figure 36: Attitudes towards travel agents, by next most popular use of agents in past two years, September 2010
                                                                                                                      • Targeting Opportunities

                                                                                                                        • Key points
                                                                                                                          • Target groups
                                                                                                                            • Figure 37: Target groups based on attitudes towards travel agents, September 2010
                                                                                                                          • Fans
                                                                                                                            • Demographic profile
                                                                                                                              • Marketing message
                                                                                                                                • Deal Seekers
                                                                                                                                  • Demographic profile
                                                                                                                                    • Marketing message
                                                                                                                                      • DIYers
                                                                                                                                        • Demographic profile
                                                                                                                                          • Marketing message
                                                                                                                                            • Travelling Away
                                                                                                                                              • Demographic profile
                                                                                                                                                • Marketing message
                                                                                                                                                • Appendix – Market Size and Forecast

                                                                                                                                                    • Figure 38: Volume forecast of overseas holidays booked via travel agents, best- and worst-case scenarios, 2005-15
                                                                                                                                                • Appendix – Use of Travel Agents

                                                                                                                                                    • Figure 39: Most popular use of travel agents in past two years, by demographics, September 2010
                                                                                                                                                    • Figure 40: Next most popular use of travel agents in past two years, by demographics, September 2010
                                                                                                                                                    • Figure 41: Other use of travel agents in past two years, by demographics, September 2010
                                                                                                                                                • Appendix – Reasons for Travel Agent Use

                                                                                                                                                    • Figure 42: Reasons for travel agent use, by demographics, September 2010
                                                                                                                                                • Appendix – Attitudes Towards Travel Agents

                                                                                                                                                    • Figure 43: Attitudes towards travel agents, by other use of travel agents in past two years, September 2010
                                                                                                                                                    • Figure 44: Attitudes towards travel agents, by reasons for travel agent use, September 2010
                                                                                                                                                    • Figure 45: Most popular attitudes towards travel agents, by demographics, September 2010
                                                                                                                                                    • Figure 46: Next most popular attitudes towards travel agents, by demographics, September 2010
                                                                                                                                                • Appendix – Targeting Opportunities

                                                                                                                                                    • Figure 47: Attitudes towards travel agents, by target groups, September 2010
                                                                                                                                                    • Figure 48: Use of travel agents in past two years, by target groups, September 2010
                                                                                                                                                    • Figure 49: Target groups, by demographics, September 2010

                                                                                                                                                Companies Covered

                                                                                                                                                • Advantage Travel Centres
                                                                                                                                                • Air Travel Organisers' Licensing (ATOL)
                                                                                                                                                • Airtours Holidays
                                                                                                                                                • Association of British Travel Agents (The)
                                                                                                                                                • Bank of England
                                                                                                                                                • Bluewater Shopping Centre
                                                                                                                                                • Condor Ferries
                                                                                                                                                • Cosmos Group (Globus group of companies)
                                                                                                                                                • Cresta Holidays Limited
                                                                                                                                                • Elegant Resorts
                                                                                                                                                • First Choice Holidays & Flights Ltd
                                                                                                                                                • Flight Centre (UK) Ltd
                                                                                                                                                • Galileo International Inc.
                                                                                                                                                • Going Places
                                                                                                                                                • Hayes & Jarvis (Travel) Ltd
                                                                                                                                                • Kantar Media
                                                                                                                                                • Kirker Travel Ltd
                                                                                                                                                • Kuoni Travel Ltd
                                                                                                                                                • Meadowhall Shopping Centre
                                                                                                                                                • Neckermann
                                                                                                                                                • Neilson Active Holidays Limited
                                                                                                                                                • Office of Fair Trading
                                                                                                                                                • Peter Deilmann Cruises
                                                                                                                                                • Portland Holidays Direct
                                                                                                                                                • Shearings Holidays Ltd
                                                                                                                                                • Thomas Cook Group PLC
                                                                                                                                                • Thomson Holidays
                                                                                                                                                • Travel Foundation (The)
                                                                                                                                                • Travel Trust Association
                                                                                                                                                • Travelport
                                                                                                                                                • Trips Worldwide Ltd
                                                                                                                                                • TUI Travel PLC
                                                                                                                                                • Virgin Holidays
                                                                                                                                                • Wallace Arnold
                                                                                                                                                • Worldchoice Travel

                                                                                                                                                Travel Agents - UK - December 2010

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