TICO Survey Finds More Ontarians Using Travel Agents

Bruce Parkinson, Open Jaw

TICO's Dorian Werda and Richard Smart

An online survey of 1,000 Ontario residents has found that although the majority of consumers book travel online, a growing number prefer a one- on-one interaction with a travel agent by telephone or in person.

In 2017, 32% of respondents indicated that they booked travel with an agency on the phone or in person. This number jumped to 38% in 2018.

“The more complex the trip, the more consumers want to speak with someone face to face,” says Dorian Werda, VP of Operations for TICO. “Experiential travel is on the rise, and people are looking for adventure, so they want the reassurance of speaking with a professional travel agent who can answer their questions and provide recommendations.”

Online bookings in 2017 were at 58%, increasing to 63% in this year’s survey.

TICO says more Ontario consumers who book travel online are becoming loyal to specific websites. 62% in 2018 said they go directly to their favourite website for travel discounts, an increase from 2017 when 58% indicated website loyalty.

The Ontario travel regulator and administrator of the Ontario Travel Industry Compensation Fund is still struggling to raise awareness of the protection offered consumers who book with registered companies.

Overall, consumer awareness of TICO has increased by 1% from 33% in 2017 to 34% in 2018. However, of those who are aware of TICO, 73% understand that they must book with a TICO-registered travel agency or website so as not to forfeit the available consumer protection.

“More consumers are calling us after they have booked their travel but before they have departed,” says Dorian Werda. “They have questions regarding the terms and conditions of their booking and want to know their rights, especially as it relates to making changes or cancellation. In the past, we received more calls regarding post-travel issues, but this has shifted as more consumers become aware of TICO.”

But of those who are aware of TICO, only 38% understand that TICO manages the travel compensation fund. The fund reimburses consumers who paid for travel services to an Ontario registered travel agency or website but did not receive the services due to a bankruptcy or insolvency of a TICO-registered Ontario travel agency, website or tour operator or due to the failure of an airline or cruise line.

“These numbers have a way to go,” says Richard Smart, TICO president and CEO. “We want consumers to be aware that the fund is available for their protection. Travelling can be very personal and many Ontarians save up for vacations with families and friends, so it’s important for them to know that they can have peace of mind if they book with a TICO registered travel agency or website. Just look for the logo!” 

Bruce Parkinson

Bruce Parkinson Editor-in-Chief

An observer and analyst of the Canadian and international travel industries for over 25 years, Bruce uses the pre-dawn hours to prepare a daily news and information package to keep industry members up to date.

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