Whether it’s down to the recent collapses of booking sites, or just faith in the tried and true, it seems more and more Australians are opting to book their holidays through travel agents.
According to new research by Comparetravelinsurance.com.au, nearly half (41%) of Aussie travellers rely on travel agents rather than the internet to book their trips.
“Consumers have grown somewhat wary of booking sites and deals that seem ‘too good to be true’,” Compare Travel Insurance director Natalie Ball said.
“We’ve seen a surprising resurgence in customers choosing to go through the traditional travel agent model which is interesting in such a tech-savvy world.”
With less than one in five (17.3%) people admitting to “always” using booking sites when planning travel, the shift could reflect a growing negative perception of online travel agents (OTAs).
Just before Christmas in 2018, travel company Bestjet collapsed, leaving thousands of holiday plans in disarray, while in the same month, accommodation site HotelQuickly cancelled bookings at the last minute, and then offered vouchers as compensation which later turned out to be invalid.
Also late last year, the ACCC began a probe into the advertising practices of high profile booking site Trivago, who it said had misled the public over hotel pricing.
“Third party booking sites may seem like an efficient way to land a great bargain. However, travellers should be wary of deceptive practices,” Ms Ball said.
“Take your time to research your options and try to avoid decisions made under pressure.”
Ball added that consumers should also be wary of travel site “add-ons” at check-out, such as insurance.
“While it may seem like a convenient option, travel insurance that is bolted on at the point of purchase can be far more expensive than those offered through a dedicated insurance comparison site,” she said.
At present, Ball said, only a handful of insurers provide some form of cover in the event of bankruptcy, while “travel insurance will not cover the cost of a fraudulent online transaction”.
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