Is Booking Travel over the Internet Causing the Decline of High Street Travel Agents?

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  • Topic: Travel agency, Dynamic packaging
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  • Published : November 10, 2008
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Is booking travel over the internet causing the decline of high street travel agents?

During the decade leading up to 2007, ways of buying tourism products as changed a lot. Ten years ago people choosing a holiday more often than not a package holiday, by going to the travel agent and choosing one from a number of brochures and after chatting with the travel agent. Many people still chose this method but a lot more people are buying packing holidays, more people now buy online, or over the telephone, through teletext. People tended to find it cheaper to and more flexible to buy their flights from one internet site, their accommodation from another and book a hire car with another site, rather than buying a package holiday out of a tour operator's brochure. They are not always financially, protected when booking travel separately.

Holidaymakers are "turning their backs on the traditional high-street travel agent in favour of booking trips online", reports “Between 2000 and 2004 there was an 11% drop in the number of bookings made at travel agents, with only 47% of overseas holidays now being reserved through a high street travel agency, according to figures from market researchers Mintel. Many people book breaks by phone, and just 31% of overseas trips were booked in person in 2004," says the report. "The research shows that traditional sun, sand and sangria package holidays are the main type of trip booked on the high street, with just one in five domestic trips booked at travel agencies." Richard Cope, international travel analyst at Mintel, reportedly said consumer confidence in the internet was driving people away from booking in person. "Mintel's research shows that almost one in five UK holidays are now booked online, with consumers becoming increasingly confident about making their own travel arrangements." Mintel figures also indicated that, overall, more holidays are being taken. In 2004 65% of British people went on holiday, compared to 62% in 2000. Some 44% of holidaymakers now take more than one holiday a year, up 14% since 2000. Altogether, Britons took 43 million holidays abroad in 2004.

Technological changes within tourism surround several different factors from medical advances to the innovative space tourism. Similar to tourism, technology is an ever changing and sometimes unstable business. Better communication, transport and safety have encouraged new consumers to the industry. Improvements in water supply, medicine and knowledge have meant areas are opened up which were not possible before technological advances. In today’s society in which a consumer wants easier, quicker and cheaper service only technology has helped tourism fulfil the customers demand.

Another massive effect on tourism is the rapid increase in online booking that has given consumers more opportunity to make a holiday.

Through technological advances, online booking has been one of the biggest factors in affecting tourism, leisure and recreation in today’s world. There were 37,600,000 Internet users in the United Kingdom (representing 62.3% of the population) in March 2007, according to Internet World Stats. This was up by 144.2% compared to 2000. (Internet World Stats, March 2007) and a new Google Survey has shown that surfing the web has topped watching television as Britain’s favourite past time. On average residents in the UK spend 164 minutes online every day compared to 148 minutes watching television (Daily Mail, Friday 10th March 2006). This shows how much the internet is now an integral part of life and has had an effect on other aspects influencing the tourism business.

More and more people are now booking their holiday on the internet, as many people are looking for a better priced deal than they’re being offered by their travel agent. Both holiday and airline bookings have not dramatically rose in sales from...
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