UK holidaymakers say the main advantages of booking with a travel professional are the ease of booking (58%), saving time (51%) and feeling more confident (45%), reveals ABTA’s latest Holiday Habits research.

People aged 25-34 are more likely than any other age group to say booking with a travel professional means they’ll have a better holiday. One in five (20%) said one of the advantages of booking with a travel professional is that they have a better holiday.

The findings suggest that this age group – digital natives with experience of travelling – have lost some confidence in travel review sites as a source of information. ABTA’s research shows that trust in review sites for information and inspiration has fallen by 14% in the past year, down from 53% to 39%. The limitations of relying on review websites has been highlighted by high profile stories of a shed being ranked one of the best restaurants in London and a plastic tunnel at a supermarket being listed as the most popular attraction in the Cornish town of Bude.

The youngest travellers are increasingly looking to experts to help them seek out unique and original travel experiences, recognising that travel professionals know destinations inside-out and can help them get the holiday they want: 18-24 year olds are more likely to say they’ll book with a travel professional for the new ideas and destinations they suggest (32%). This reflects that this age group are likely to be less experienced travellers, and are keen to utilise the expertise of travel professionals.

With 40% of the 18-24 year olds who plan to spend more on travel next year doing so because they want to take the trip of a lifetime, and feedback from ABTA Members reporting young people increasingly looking for an authentic and original experience - there is a real opportunity for travel companies to help them plan the best holiday and have a very memorable experience.

Nine in ten book following a conversation with a travel professional

ABTA’s latest Holiday Habits report also finds that the overwhelming majority of people who speak to a travel professional will go on to book with that company via one of their channels.

This year, for the first time, we asked people about their booking behaviour after they had spoken to a travel professional. This is in recognition that customers may start a conversation through one channel, but end up booking via another.

Just under a third (30%) had spoken to a travel professional about their last holiday. More than nine in ten (93%) of these said they then went on to book with that company. Two in five (40%) spoke to a travel professional and booked in-store, 30% booked online and one in four (23%) booked over the phone.

This reflects feedback from ABTA Members about the changing role of the high street store and how they are an important part of the customer journey and experience, as well as an important asset for raising brand awareness.

It also busts the myth that lots of people speak to a travel professional and then go on to book their travel independently or with someone else. Only 7% of people who spoke to a travel professional went on to book with another travel company or organised the holiday themselves.

The findings show that if businesses can engage a customer in a conversation, they have more than a nine in ten chance of converting that conversation into a sale. It also reinforces the importance of thinking about a customer journey through all of the channels they may be researching and booking, from the initial engagement through to the final booking.

Victoria Bacon, Director of Brand and Business Development at ABTA said, “It’s fantastic that consumers are really seeing the benefits of using a travel professional, recognising that they often make life easier, quicker and provide the reassurance people are looking for when booking a holiday.

“For many young people, who have grown up as digital natives, it’s encouraging that they’re recognising the limitations of doing everything themselves online, or relying solely on review websites to help them plan. Their holiday is a chance to discover new places and new experiences and they’re increasingly recognising that travel professionals offer unrivalled insight and expertise to help them have a better experience.”