In the past 12 months, there appears to have been a shift away from booking directly with service providers most notably to booking with a travel agent (either online or on the High Street) according to new research by ABTA.

In 2013, 41% booked at least one overseas holiday directly with a service provider, compared to 34% this year. During the same time period, more people booked both an overseas holiday and a domestic holiday with a travel agent, either online or on the High Street. The shift is particularly marked for domestic holidays: one in ten (10%) people said they booked a domestic holiday with a High Street travel agent in 2014 (up from 7% in 2013) and 16% booked with an online travel agent (up from 12% in 2013).

The findings also revealed that bookings with general holiday booking websites have remained stable, while direct bookings with tour operators have increased slightly.
High Street travel agents are particularly popular among 35-44 year olds, with more than a quarter (28%) booking a holiday abroad in this way suggesting that those booking family holidays welcome the benefits of face-to-face contact.

Travel agents are also particularly popular with younger consumers aged 16-24 with 18% using a High Street travel agent and 36% travel agent online to book at least one overseas holiday People aged 65 and over were the most likely to book directly with a tour operator, 43% booked an overseas holiday like this.

There are also some notable regional variations in the way consumers book their holidays with those outside London far more likely to use a travel agent than those in London; only 11% of Londoners booked a holiday abroad using a High Street travel agent compared to an average of 20%.

The research also revealed that travel professionals were most valued for the ease of booking (51%), for saving time (46%) and for saving money (41%) suggesting that this shift in booking may be due to these reasons.

Mark Tanzer, ABTA chief executive, said: “It is encouraging to see more holidaymakers using travel professionals to book their holiday, when family finances are tight we know that they are also looking for that extra security that booking with a travel agent or tour operator can bring. People may also perhaps be realising that DIY holidays are time consuming to put together and value having someone else do the hard work for their holiday.”

Meanwhile, new research released by the organisation reveals a strong increase in demand in the past year for both domestic and overseas package holidays.
Analysis of people who took at least one foreign holiday in the 12 months to July 2014 reveals that 51% of holidaymakers booked a package. This increase continues an overall trend of growth in the market for overseas packages – 46% of people in 2013 booked a package, 48% in 2012, 42% in 2011 and 37% in 2010.

People aged 65 and over remain the biggest fans of the overseas package at 61%. Overseas packages are also particularly attractive to families with 53% of those with children under five years old having booked one, rising to 59% for those with children over five.
There has also been strong growth in domestic packages with 24% having taken a package holiday in the UK in 2014, up from 18% in 2013, 23% in 2012 and double the number in 2011 when only 12% of consumers said they had taken a domestic package holiday.

Victoria Bacon, the association's head of communications, said: “One of the key booking trends of recent years has been the resurgence of the package holiday. The message from consumers is loud and clear that many of them love having everything taken care of and the great value offered by a package. Consumers also now better understand that there are now a huge variety of packages available catering for every budget and taste.”

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