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Are travel agents destined for extinction?

Some say travel agents are dinosaurs, destined for extinction. A new report from PhoCusWright proves otherwise. According to PhoCusWright’s Travel Agency Distribution Landscape: 2006-2009, the travel agency distribution channel represents a large and dynamic opportunity, accounting for nearly US$110 billion in sales, or 41% of all travel booked in the U.S.

This groundbreaking report presents the first definitive sizing and analysis of the travel agency marketplace. Conducted in partnership with four leading travel industry organizations—American Society of Travel Agents, Airlines Reporting Corporation, Cruise Lines International Association and Performance Media Group—PhoCusWright’s Travel Agency Distribution Landscape: 2006-2009 presents results from a survey of nearly 1,900 agents and more than 60 in-depth interviews. The research spans the travel industry, including storefront-based travel agents and home-based agents, agency owners and managers, travel suppliers, technology and distribution companies, and travel agency consortia, franchises and industry associations.

"The agency distribution landscape is large, complex and dynamic. There are critical differences across leisure agencies, corporate agencies and home-based agents—the types of products they sell, the technologies and channels they use to research and book travel, their business models and strategy," said Douglas Quinby, PhoCusWright’s senior director, research, and report author. "Companies seeking to engage with this important distribution channel must understand which segments of the agency landscape are relevant for their business, and what are the key dynamics driving product selection and booking within those segments."

Key findings from PhoCusWright’s Travel Agency Distribution Landscape: 2006-2009 include:

  • The size (in sales volume) of the total U.S. travel agency market, with projections through 2009;
  • Travel agents’ share of each of the major travel product segments—air, hotel, car, cruise, tour operator—with projections through 2009;
  • The total population of travel agency locations, including non-ARC agencies;
  • Sizing and analysis of the surging home-based agent phenomenon;
  • The type of products travel agents book, and how this varies among leisure agencies, corporate agencies and home-based agents;
  • The channels travel agents are using to book—GDS, supplier Web sites and the phone—and how this varies by leisure agencies, corporate agencies and home-based agents;
  • Analysis of travel agent demographics, agency business models and strategy across leisure, corporate and home-based segments.
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Theodore is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of TravelDailyNews Media Network; his responsibilities include business development and planning for TravelDailyNews long-term opportunities.