Last updated: 11:20 AM ET, Sun October 02 2016

What’s Your Preference: Travel App or Travel Agent?

Travel Agent | Janeen Christoff | September 30, 2016

What’s Your Preference: Travel App or Travel Agent?

Photo courtesy Thinkstock. 

Mobile travel apps for booking travel are now widely available but their popularity varies depending on where you are from. A survey conducted by TravelZoo revealed that Chinese travelers prefer mobile booking while European travelers still prefer to use a travel agent. 

"The Chinese population has a very close relationship with digital technology, and we are always keen to be the first adopters,” said Vivian Hong, Travelzoo's president of Asia. For example, platforms such as WeChat are becoming more influential than emails. According to the China Internet Network Information Center, there are over 245 million email users in China, and the email usage rate dropped by 36.7 percent last year. By contrast, WeChat has a total of 697 million active users in China. The market here is much more trusting of technology."

The survey showed that more than 85 percent of Chinese Travelzoo members say that the use of travel apps is the easiest way to book a holiday, and more than 70 percent indicated that they plan to book flights, cruises, package holidays and hotels via apps. 

"What the research shows is the significant difference of opinion across various nations regarding the most trustworthy and reliable ways of both researching and booking travel,” said Richard Singer, Travelzoo's European president. “It's important for travel brands to recognize that these cultural nuances are the difference between success and failure in today's competitive travel environment. Having a top-notch app in China is critical, while in markets like Germany and Canada the role of the travel agent remains significant. As a business, Travelzoo is constantly adapting the way our deals are presented to our members across the globe – we have to stay on top of cultural trends and shifts in order to appeal to the many markets we now operate in."

The survey also attempted to nail down where travelers begin researching for an upcoming trip, as well and found that “respondents from all markets place more trust in travel-deal websites (69%) than any other source, including guidebooks, travel agents, review sites and feedback from friends and family.”

According to the survey, Canadians and Germans were the most likely to trust travel agents, with 40 percent of Germans and 37 percent of Canadians using agent websites for inspiration. 

READ MORE: Best New Features of Google’s New Travel App ‘Trips’  

When it comes to making the final decision on where to travel, however, the survey found that review sites and advice from friends and family remain number one around the world, with the exception of France and Spain. 

While China far outshines its counterparts when it comes to booking and researching via mobile applications, interest is on the rise. The survey found that Spanish and American respondents were second to China in their openness to mobile bookings. Sixty-two percent of Spanish and 54 percent of U.S. respondents indicated that they would book or have booked accommodation this way.

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