CLIA Survey Finds Cruisers Don't Think Agents Have Best Prices

Travel Weekly

New CLIA research shows that just 19% of cruisers believe travel agents offer the best fares, raising the question of whether agents are losing valuable ground to OTAs and direct-selling suppliers.

CLIA’s 2014 North American Cruise Market Profile survey found that when asked which channel offered the best price, 30% said it was the cruise lines themselves, while 47% said it was OTAs or “websites.”

When it comes to service, travel agent led the way, with 35% of cruisers saying they believe agents provide the best service. However, agents barely nosed out cruise lines, cited by 34% of respondents for best service. Another 24% said OTAs and websites provide the best service.

The online survey was conducted last August. It polled more than 1,600 North Americans who had cruised at least once, were 25 or older and have household income of $40,000 or more.

The research suggests that the image of the travel agent as the champion of clients looking for a good value might be getting lost in the shuffle as other messages draw more attention. OTAs spend billions on consumer advertising and cruise lines can also outspend agents.

All that being said, the new numbers actually reflect a slight improvement in the consumer perception of agent prices. In 2011, the last time CLIA undertook its survey, 15% rated agents tops for price, compared with 54% for OTAs and websites and 26% for the cruise lines.

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