ASTA finds agents with Web presence
slow to embrace new Internet tools
ABY DENNIS SCHAAL
with a website and
would have been a
a few years ago. But
not anymore. The
Internet has moved
to a more interactive
era with Web 2.0.
blogging and streaming have come to travel, and retailers,
according to ASTA’s latest research,
slowly are catching on.
The 2008 edition of ASTA’s Technology and Web Usage Report
noted that between 6% and
7% of retailers surveyed said
they have posted profiles on
either MySpace, LinkedIn or
In the report’s executive
summary, ASTA states that
most agencies are comfortable with standard technologies, and many book some
types of travel online and
use the Web for marketing.
“However, they have not
embraced Web 2.0 marketing techniques yet,” the report states.
But the report also shows that introducing some Web 2.0 tools is high on
agency wish lists.
When agents were asked which
technologies they most wanted to
upgrade or introduce, “podcasts, we-binars, webcasts or streaming video”
was the top vote-getter. Nearly 15%
of respondents indicated they already
offered some of these tools, and another 27% said they need either to
purchase or develop them in-house,
the survey found.
Midoffice systems (quality control
products, auto-ticketing, client communications) and online booking
tools for corporate clients were second sites, a majority, or 78%, said they re-and third priorities for upgrades or in- ceive fewer than five new client leads
troduction, the survey found. per month from their sites.
This was the first year that ASTA More respondents are attempting
queried agents about Web 2.0 tools, to increase revenue through Web ad-so there was no baseline with which to vertising, the survey found. In fact, the
compare the 2008 responses. number of respondents that indicated
However, the survey data illuminate their agency does no Web advertising
several other trends. fell from 40% in 2007 to 35% in 2008.
For one thing, the number of About 9% said they use banner ads.
agencies with websites seems to have “The fact that many agencies do not
leveled off at 77% after several years use most of the tools available to them
of steady gains. Of those with a Web to increase their Web presence and ul-
presence, 47% have either a corpo- timately their revenue is linked to the
rate or leisure booking tool, while low percentage of respondents who
53% do not. view their website venture as profit-
able,” ASTA said.
As for agency use of new
technology tools to book
and manage travel, the
GDS is still king, but the
agency toolkit is continuing to expand. Virtually all
agents, or 94%, have made
some supplier bookings
online, and agents report
they book about 31% of
their total business though
About 80% of agents re-On average, agents with booking port making airline bookings online,
tools on their websites say they get more than any other type of sale, but
about 9% of sales directly from the insurance and hotel bookings are close
site, while another 10% is generated behind at 78% and 77%, respectively.
from online requests for assistance. Online cruise bookings are on the
Commenting on the 9% figure, increase as 54% of respondents indi-
ASTA said, “This low-revenue per- cate they booked some cruises on the
centage may deter some agencies Web, up from 42% last year.
from updating their booking tools as Respondents designated Kayak.com
well as offering the tools to their en- and Orbitz.com as the first- and sec-tire clientele. However, offering more ond-leading websites, respectively, for
options and tools for consumers and airline fare searches. ASTA noted that
marketing these capabilities to con- metasearch engine Kayak.com “was
sumers will increase revenue in the not even in the top five sites listed
long run with the added flexibility of last year.” The survey also found that
24-hour booking.” TripAdvisor was the top Web choice
Generating new business is also a for agents seeking travelers’ reviews
challenge. Among agents with web- of suppliers.