The travel industry remains strong in 2017 thanks to a healthy economy and consumer confidence, continuing a trend seen in the last couple years. However, simple human interaction is also playing a significant part in keeping the industry healthy.
While travel outside the U.S. is faring well, domestic travel is seeing a surge in popularity.
-In 2016, travelers took 2.2 billion domestic trips, up 1.2 percent from 2015, when travelers took 2.17 billion domestic trips
-Domestic travel in 2017 is trending upward with travel to and within the U.S. up 3.6 percent from March 2016 to March 2017
Of particular note is the thriving cruise segment, which includes river cruises as well as ocean liners. It is the fastest growing segment in the travel industry – 24.3 million people cruised in 2016 and 25.3 million are expected to set sail this year. To meet demand, 26 new ships were ordered for 2017.
The Human Touch
Travelers are turning away from booking trips online themselves, which is a 180-degree shift from just three years ago. Not only do travelers want to interact more with people when planning their trips, but they want to rely on the advice and experiences of travel agents again.
Thirty percent of millennials, the largest generation of consumers, used a travel agent in the last year and are likely to recommend using an agent to a friend. Travel agencies are being used for complex travel plans, international travel or going to places they haven’t been before. This is also true for booking first cruises. While exciting new cruise ships are being marketed to first-time cruisers, these new cruisers look to travel agent professionals to guide them onto the right ship.
Travel employment alone, including travel agents, was a top employer nationwide in 2016. The desire of consumers to work with agents for trip planning ensures the travel agent sector will stay strong throughout 2017 and beyond.
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Sources: ustravel.org; CLIA cruising.org; Skift