Travel agents and advisors are a crucial element of the luxury travel experience, according to Flywire’s latest travel survey. 92% of luxury travelers say they have used (or are likely to use) a travel agent/advisor for trips within the next 18 months. In fact 81% of the respondents said that “working with travel experts is the only way to have a truly luxury travel experience.”
Interestingly though it is the respondents aged 18-44 and classified as Generation Z (Gen Z) or Millennial, who are most likely to use a travel agent/advisor compared to their older counterparts (96% vs 90% for Generation X travelers aged 45-60, and 89% for Boomers+ aged over 61). They are also the group who are most likely to say they are planning to spend more this year than last (88% compared to 81% of Generation X and 61% of Boomers+ travelers).
Over half of the global population are classified as either Gen Z (born between 1997 and 2012) or Millennial (1981 to 1996), and they are a large proportion of most markets, including luxury travel. Whilst younger members of Gen Z are still in their early teens, older members are quickly gaining financial independence and are looking to spend their hard earned money on once-in-a-lifetime travel experiences. Three quarters of Gen Z and Millennial travelers told us that they could not imagine traveling without an agent or advisor.
Gen Z & Millennials value personalized travel experiences. 90% of these travelers said that travel agents/advisors are the best way to achieve them and that “working with a travel agent/advisor is the only way to have a truly luxury experience.” This is compared to less than half of travelers over 61 years old who are more confident that they can achieve a luxury break when organizing it themselves.
According to our survey, Gen Z/Millennial travelers do have a slight preference for Online Travel Agents (OTA) with 64% of this group having made use of an OTA compared to 59% who have used a travel advisor, 50% a travel concierge and 45% a destination management company (DMC). This points to the comfort and familiarity Gen Z and Millennial travelers have with online services. Gen Z in particular, are the first generation to have grown up with access to the internet from birth and therefore are “digital natives.” But, it’s useful to know that it is likely that Gen Z/Millennial travelers will opt for an online service and that compared to travelers over the age of 61, Gen Z/Millennial travelers are twice as likely to use travel services of some sort to book their vacation. And their reliance on travel agents doesn’t end once a trip is booked either. Whilst over three quarters of all travelers said that they typically use a travel agent/advisor to help manage their itinerary in real time, when broken down by generation a staggering 87% of Gen Z and Millennial travelers say this compared to just 50% of Boomers+ travelers.
When asked about the reasons for using travel agents, the primary reasons were that agents take care of everything (62%), they communicate the latest travel restrictions (60%), they solve problems (59%) and give peace of mind (57%). Interestingly, 63% of Gen Z and Millennial travelers said that travel agents/advisors give peace of mind compared to 54% of Generation X travelers and 45% of Boomer+ travelers.
Travel agents are also important to travelers at the payment stage of vacation planning. Considering that summer/fall 2023 vacations the average cost per person is expected to be $5,798, 60% of travelers want to pay one person (such as a travel agent/advisor) for most or all of their vacation. Over the past year, concerns about the security of payments have increased amongst luxury travelers with 74% saying they were concerned about this element of vacation planning, an increase from 69% last year. Gen Z/Millennials are the most likely to be concerned with 82% saying they were concerned about the security of their payment compared to 71% of Generation X travelers and just 50% of Boomers+.
Overall, it’s safe to say that the travel agent/advisor has an undeniable role in luxury travel, particularly for younger luxury travelers who are coming into their own money and are wanting to spend it on unique travel experiences more now than ever before.