SOURCE: ALTOUR

ALTOUR

June 27, 2011 10:44 ET

Travel Industry Remains Strong in the Midst of Evolution According to ALTOUR Agents

Well-Informed Clients Seek More Involvement Than Ever

NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwire - Jun 27, 2011) - Increasingly savvy travelers are coming to travel agents with an enthusiastic, hands-on approach and a greater depth of knowledge than ever before, a sign of the times in the information age. They also continue to voice their concern about political instability and unrest in potential destinations, but for all their caution and concerns, the industry remains as strong as ever with room for still more improvement according to the June 2011 ALTOUR Index. ALTOUR is one of the largest and most respected travel agencies catering to high and mid-markets.

There remains cause to be optimistic across the industry: half (48%) of ALTOUR travel agents surveyed reported that customers are traveling more than they did last year. What's more, another 42% reported that their clients have remained consistent in their travel planning.

Debbie Dougherty of ALTOUR's Minnesota office has noticed this bump in business and chalks it up to mass-media inspired wanderlust, yet another sign of the informed client: "People just want something different than what they have been doing... We think people are seeing areas on the Travel Channel and want to get out and experience it for themselves! "

Whatever the reason, agents noticed a particularly strong performance amongst FITs. 48% of agents surveyed indicated a "high" demand for travel arrangements and only 11% noticed any sort of drop off. The Free Independent Traveler is thriving, and their independent attitude is beginning to transcend other arenas of travel, notably travel planning.

In a separate question, only 1% of clients did no research prior to calling a travel agent. Travel planning has become an increasingly cooperative effort between agent and client, though it hasn't precluded tourists from relying on a personal travel agent's expertise in making the final recommendation. ALTOUR Long Island agent Frank Marino recalls: "I have found while many people do Internet research, many don't trust what they see. There is the adage if it's too good to be true, then it mustn't be true. I'm finding many more people who are living by this lately. They can't ask questions on the Internet, and if they can, it may take a week to get an answer. Typically the answers aren't very informative or customized but rather scripted ending with 'oh, it's a great place to visit' type of stock answer. Today's consumer has a lot of questions and wants a lot more in the way of answers." Travel agencies continue to offer those answers through ongoing dialogue: something that anonymity of the internet simply cannot provide

Travelers are also increasingly aware of current events around the globe that could affect their vacation. Some of these issues are logistical: 24% are most worried about airline policies and fees. However travelers are most concerned with "Political Instability" in their destination, but not enough for them to stay home.

Indeed despite their increased concern, travelers remain eager to go, and travel agents are key in recognizing valid alternatives to risky destinations, even when those recommendations break pre-existing travel trends. Ellen Price in ALTOUR's Fresno office notes: "Here on the west coast, I see a trend of travelers heading back to the Caribbean rather than risk going to Mexico."

ALTOUR is one of the world's leading independent travel and services organizations with a workforce of over 1,000 professionals in sixty-eight offices on three continents. With a $1.2 billion turnover in 2010, ALTOUR is recognized as an international industry leader providing essential travel and service solutions the world over. The company's core remains its renowned business travel management capabilities, though ALTOUR has divisions dedicated to such diverse fields as leisure travel, performance improvement, sports travel, entertainment travel, as well as meetings and events services. ALTOUR's principal divisions are complemented by flexible sister companies providing private air charter services and limousine services. ALTOUR is ranked14th on Travel Weekly's 2010 "Power List" of the best travel agencies in the United States, and is included in the "Top Travel Agencies in the UK" by Buying Business Travel. The Los Angeles Business Journal ranks ALTOUR as one of the top two travel agencies in Los Angeles County, and also recognizes the company as one of the "Best Places to Work in Los Angeles" for 2010. ALTOUR has also been named to the "CMI 25" as one of Corporate Meetings & Incentives' best in the industry. For more information or to learn how to contact an agent, please visit www.ALTOUR.com.