Independent agent sales up, ASTA, NACTA report

According to a newly released survey from ASTA and NACTA, 57% of independent agents reported an increase in their business in 2011. It is the second consecutive year in which independent agents posted business gains. ASTA CEO, Tony Gonchar said that: “Results from the report confirm that travel is gaining economic ground and independent agents are a critical part of the sales equation for suppliers. As this sector of travel agents continues to grow, we want to ensure suppliers are able to get an in-depth understanding of what drives the independent travel agency community.” NACTA vice-president, Ann van Leeuwen pointed out that: “Independent agents are strong generators of new business, especially group travel. This growing segment is not only changing the way travel agents conduct their daily business, but how travel is promoted and sold.” While the sale of cruises remains a primary source of income for independent agents (57%), it is down considerably from 2011, when 75% of independent agents said they were cruise specialists. Today, a small but increasing number say they specialize in a specific destination (9%), tours (6%) and honeymoon sales, luxury travel or family travel (5% each). The study, which examines relevant trends within the independent travel agent industry, also found that: !!! The largest share of agents (56%) have been in the travel business for more than 10 years down slightly from 2011 when 57% reported a similar time in business. !!! 88% of respondents say they work out of their home, compared to 87% last year. !!! 35% of respondents reported having employees and/or independent contractors, up from 33% last year. !!! Of the 86% of respondents who say they split commissions with their host agency, the average host split is 74%/26% — in 2011, 91% of agents split commissions with the same breakout. !!! For those who pay an annual fee (6%), 47% of respondents pay less than $200 annually — in 2011, 50% of respondents reported paying less than $200. !!! Most independent agents (70%) do not use a Global Distribution System, up from 67% in the year prior. As in 2011, Royal Caribbean was the top cruise supplier used by respondents. Globus was the top choice for escorted tour operator. Sandals was ranked as the top choice among resort suppliers. Marriot was the top hotel supplier. For additional information, please contact [email protected] or visit the research page on .