It is said that lawyers are taught
never to ask a question in open
court unless they know in advance what the witness will say,
because courtroom surprises
It’s probably good advice for
trial lawyers, but it’s bad advice
in business and even worse in
research. Scientist and author
Issac Asimov once said the most
exciting phrase in research is
not “Eureka,” but “That’s funny,” because it is the surprising result that
provides the most appealing opportunities for advancement.
It can happen in business. If you
think the customer wants A, but find
out by asking that he or she really
wants B, you’ve created an opportunity to meet a need that you weren’t
prepared to meet before.
to know their “primary motivations.”
Are they looking for A or for B?
and small retailers new alternatives to
the old promise of one-stop shopping
through the GDS.
WHAT DO TRAVELERS WANT?
For Travel Weekly’s 2008 Travel
Industry Survey, travel industry researcher Stanley Plog went looking
for such surprises by posing two simple questions: “Why do travelers use
the Internet?” and “Why do travelers
use travel agents?”
We asked consumers, and we put
the same question to travel agents.
It is widely thought among travel
agents that consumers flock to the
Internet because they believe the best
deals will be found there or because
they believe it costs more to use a
But that’s not what consumers
told us. Plog found a disconnect between what agents believe about the
appeal of the Internet and the travelers’ responses.
That surprising disconnect could
be an opportunity for retailers who
are seeking to win back those travelers, Plog said, noting that agents need
THE THREE FACES
This year’s Travel Industry Survey
also employs a psychographic analysis
that Plog unveiled last year, depicting
three types of agents based on their
attitudes about their work.
Confirming results that emerged
last year, the analysis suggests that
while most agents find their work
relatively fulfilling, there remains a
sizable number of productive and experienced agents who no longer find
As for the more traditional breakdown of agency groupings, the 2008
data show that agents are continuing
to adapt to a changing marketplace.
The airline ticket has not gone
away, nor has the GDS. Overall, they
are mainstays of the business. But air
ticketing continues to decline in the
typical agency’s business mix, and a
new generation of information and
booking technologies is giving large
NEW ASTA RESEARCH
The final component of the Travel
Industry Survey stems from our research partnership with ASTA. This
ongoing relationship enables us to
present new findings from revised
and improved surveys conducted by
ASTA’s research department among
the Society’s members and members
of its subsidiary, the National Association of Commissioned Travel Agents.
We present this package of research
and analysis in our 50th anniversary
year, which has turned out to be a
year of astonishing developments in
the business world.
Throughout that half-century, we
have striven to bring our readers
the best quality research and market data on retail travel. In a year of
astonishing developments, we hope
these efforts provide a basis for future growth.