American consumers booking fewer vacations through travel agents

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The Independent Online

The number of bookings made by passengers in 2009 has dropped for the majority of US travel agents, according to new data.

The economic crisis has hit travel plans hard, combining with a growing trend of consumer independence eating into traditional agent bookings. The latest data from the American Society of Travel Agents shows that 78.2 percent of US travel agents experienced a year-on-year decline in revenue for 2009. More than three quarters of agents, 75.2 percent, also saw a decrease in overall transactions from customers.

Unsurprisingly, the survey reveals that corporate travel firms have been the worst hit and are not expecting a recovery until the spring of 2010 or later, and that many are considering changes in regards to employees.

The research echoes recently released data from US researcher Zagat, which revealed that only eight percent of people it interviewed would use a travel agent to book a flight, preferring instead to use the internet. Despite this, the world's two largest travel firms, Thomas Cook and TUI, have both reported encouraging results in the past week.