People will be spending more money on travel and more time with travel agents in 2014, according to American Express. While it’s never been easier to research and book trips online, consumers are using professionals to help them make sense of all the information they find and to create customized travel packages, according to a recent survey of 200 travel professionals.
Demand is up for travel agents
More than half of the travel agents surveyed agreed that travelers are savvier than ever before, using the Internet to research trips, destinations and deals.
But while some expected this would decrease the need for travel agents, the respondents report that consumers are coming to them for help sorting through all the information. The Internet has actually helped the agents. Nearly two-thirds said that being able to access information online has actually made them better at their jobs.
Specialization is key
Travelers are looking for professionals that are experts in the destinations they are interested in visiting and exploring. To keep up with this trend, 38% of the agents said they have developed an expertise in a particular destination or area of travel, including family, foodie, or adventure getaways and trips.
Travel professionals expect this trend to continue over the next five years, and see specialization as being one of the keys to achieving success in the industry.
Exotic trends for 2014
There’s also been an increased interest in travel with 92% of agents saying that their clients would be spending as much or more on travel in 2014 as they did this year.
Increased budgets have also affected destination choices. More than half reported that the number of customers looking to travel internationally was on the rise. Travelers are also looking to visit more exotic locations, with Southeast Asia, Rio de Janeiro, New Zealand, Croatia and Costa Rica all making it to the top of the exotic travel list.
Ocean cruises are also slated to be big in 2014. Over two thirds of travel agents surveyed agree that the popularity of river cruising is also on the rise.
There are lots of reasons why people will be traveling next year including soaking up art and culture at the top of the list, followed by ultra-luxury travel (27%), foodie packages (21%), and adventure trips (17%).