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Return of the travel agent: 30% of Aussies are booking travel through a third party

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The use of travel agents is having a resurgence as Aussie travellers try to safeguard themselves against COVID-19 disruptions, according to new research by Finder.

A nationally representative survey of 1,000 respondents revealed 1 in 5 (21%) Aussies are more inclined to book travel through a travel agent due to the pandemic.

The level of admin required to travel now is too much for 8%.

The fear of a trip being cancelled (7%) and uncertainty around travel requirements (6%) are also reasons Australians are more likely to book through an agent.

Almost 1 in 10 (9%) were already using a travel agent prior to the pandemic.

Angus Kidman, travel expert at Finder, said booking a trip is no longer as simple as it used to be and the days of booking a last-minute flight and skipping through customs are long gone.

"Travel has changed dramatically since the pandemic, and the amount of research required before booking a trip can seem overwhelming.

"Many travellers want to pass off that responsibility to a travel professional – a service that had started to disappear in the age of the Internet."

Finder research found 1 in 2 (51%) Australians have travel plans in 2022.

Australians with domestic (24%) and international travel plans (15%) are worried new COVID-19 variants will impact their trip.

"Even once you book a trip, the stress doesn't end once you've landed at your destination.

"Rules and regulations are constantly changing – there's an array of information circling online about travelling both in and out of Australia.

"While it may cost a little extra to use a travel agent or third party, it can save you a lot of time and effort on the phone to airlines, hotels and tour operators."

According to the Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA), prior to COVID-19, the travel industry experienced year-on-year growth of 11% and maintained growth of 7.25% over the past 5 years.

In 2018-19, Australians spent over $46 billion on international travel, 70% of which was booked through Australian travel agents.

"There are so many new protocols including vaccinations and quarantine requirements that vary per country and change on a regular basis – having someone to take care of all these changes last minute can take the stress off.

"If you do decide to book through a travel agent or third party, the policies and the terms and conditions of both the agent and travel provider will apply, so checking both is a must.

"If you're worried about travelling during COVID-19 and about your trip being cancelled due to border closures, speak to your agent about your options before you book.

"Remember travel insurance remains a must. Popular destinations like Indonesia, Thailand and Singapore have mandated travel insurance that covers COVID-related medical expenses."

Millennials (30%) are the most likely to book through a travel agent nowadays, compared to 13% of baby boomers.

Has the pandemic made you more likely to book travel through a travel agent?
No, I would rather book it myself38%
I don't travel20%
I was already using a travel agent before the pandemic9%
Yes, there is too much admin around travel now8%
Yes, I don't want to book a trip and have it cancelled7%
No, it's too much of a hassle7%
Yes, I don't know what travel requirements there are6%
I would like to, but it's too expensive6%
Source: Finder survey of 1,000 respondents, January 2022

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