PHOTO: Travel agents are seeing strong results, per ASTA. (illustration courtesy of Thinkstock)
ASTA member agencies have reported strong financial results for the full year of 2015 as well as the first half of 2016, according to the association’s most recent Financial Benchmarking Report.
In 2015, more than eight in ten (81 percent) of agency survey respondents said their revenues either increased (64 percent of respondents) or stayed the same (17 percent), compared to 2014.
There were also strong results for 2015 in other areas: 82 percent of respondents reported an increase in sales, 80 percent said they had an increase in transactions and 85 percent experienced an increase in their number of clients.
Survey data from the annual report is collected through the 2016 ASTA Research Family survey panel, which is made up of a representative sample of member agency owners and managers. Members were recruited randomly to complete the survey. The survey data for the current report was collected online in early 2016 with 341 respondents.
“Travel agents have never really gone away,” said Erika Richter, ASTA’s director of communications. “This just shows that our members are still thriving, still have a good client base, and that there’s still a need for professional travel advice.”
READ MORE ASTA Study Finds Travel Agents Save Customers Money, Time
Eben Peck, ASTA senior vice president of government affairs and communications, added that the economy as a whole continues to improve and the “rising tide” has helped agents’ business.
Agencies' business remained strong during the first half of 2016, with 74 percent of agencies indicating their revenues increasing or maintaining the same when compared to the first half of 2015. There were similar results in terms of increases or maintaining results for sales (76 percent), transactions (70 percent) and number of clients (78 percent).
In other findings for 2015: More than half of respondents reported increased sales in cruises (56 percent), FIT’s (56 percent) and travel insurance (53 percent), followed by tour groups (48 percent), hotels (45 percent) and air (40 percent) compared to 2014.
Respondents forecast similar positive sales trends for 2016, despite the fact that seasonality and geopolitical incidents might have had a short-term impact on regional travel, causing some shifts in certain travel segments.
ASTA said it’s important to note that commissions continue to be one of the main sources of revenue for travel agencies.
Although constrained by commission rates set by industry suppliers, agencies overall consistently receive the highest commission rates from selling travel insurance (19 percent to 21 percent), tours (15 percent to 17 percent) and cruises (13 percent to 16 percent).