A marked increase in using travel agents to book holidays is one of the major trends revealed in the Silver Travel Advisor (www.silvertraveladvisor.com) 2021 Industry Report.
The newly published survey provides a snapshot of how mature travellers have been affected over the course of COVID-19 as the pandemic impacted on their travel plans and travel horizons and shows how their outlooks have altered going forwards. Findings include growing confidence in going on holiday again – linked to the vaccination programme – and spending more on travel over the coming year to make up for lost time.
Over 2,300 ‘silver travellers’ over the age of 50 took part in the research carried out in May, July and November 2020, along with a snap survey in association with the Advantage Travel Partnership (www.advantagemembers.com), the UK’s largest independent travel agent group, in January 2021.
Nearly half of those surveyed, 49%, said they would use a travel agent ‘to book a holiday that involves more than just a flight or a hotel booking’, up from 36% in January 2020. They cited that cruises and escorted tours as some of the holidays they would want to book through an agent, with 25% saying their preferred preferred method of booking would be to visit the agent in person.
Expertise, reassurance and financial security are the principal reasons for using a travel agent. Taken together, the ‘reassurance of having someone to help if needed’ and ‘I appreciate how my agent helped me get a refund’ totalled 52%, the biggest reason for booking with an agent.
A year ago, in spring 2020, the overall figure for using a travel agent for booking a more complicated type of holiday was only 36%, while the ‘visiting a travel agent in person’ figure was just 14%. After three lockdowns, the survey suggested that this perhaps points to the pleasure, as well as efficiency, of dealing with someone face to face.
Other key findings of the report include:
- Confidence in the idea of travelling again has grown since July 2020 with 70% wanting to holiday abroad.
- Vaccination is seen as the road out: 95% are happy to have it and 77% would book and travel within 6 months once they have been vaccinated.
- Vaccines will have a major influence on the return of cruising. 49% of existing ocean cruisers want to cruise again within a year and a further 34% will sail again with a vaccine. Only 17% of existing ocean cruisers won’t return.
- River cruising looks still more positive: 75% of non-cruisers will consider one and only 14% of existing river cruisers won’t return.
- 86% said they would spend as much or more on travel in the next year. Of this 86%, more than 1 in 4 will spend more.
- Destinations will be chosen according to their low COVID rating, not needing to quarantine upon return from them, having a regular flight service out in case of an outbreak along with access to good medical facilities.
- Wariness of flying is diminishing, especially for short haul. 57% of people without a current forward booking said they would fly within 9 months, up from 44% in July.
- Interest in UK coach tours is strong. 92% of existing passengers will return to UK coach trips and 79% will take overseas escorted tours again. 72% who have never taken an escorted coach trip will consider one in the future.
- 39% of 45–55-year-olds – the next generation of Silver Travellers – are extremely interested or very interested in taking a bucket list holiday in 2021.
The full report can be viewed by clicking here.
Founded ten years ago, Silver Travel Advisor is a travel reviews, information and advice website, especially for travellers aged over 50.
Debbie Marshall, Managing Director, said:
“Our industry report tracks the shifts in outlook of older travellers from spring 2020 through to January 2021. Whilst the travel industry has been hard hit by the pandemic, light is beginning to appear at the end of tunnel. Vaccines are seen as the route out of lockdown and back onto the open road, once it’s safe to do so, for three quarters of older people, most of whom yearn to go abroad after a year of staycationing – if they were lucky – in 2020.
“With its cancellations and challenges over refunds, the last year has highlighted the value of booking through a travel agent. The reassurance of having an agent to act an intermediary if things go wrong, as well as the advice and expertise they offer, is what seems to have driven up the number of people saying they would book with an agent – from 36% at the start of last year to 49% at the end of it.”
Known as the ‘River Cruise Queen’, Jeannine Williamson is an award-winning travel writer, cruise expert and our cruise correspondent, who has clocked up thousands of nautical miles.
Photographs courtesy of Princess Cruises and Silver Travel Advisor