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Flight Centre flying high with Kiwi travellers

Flight Centre flying high with Kiwi travellers

Back at work after the Christmas break and already daydreaming about your next holiday? Here’s some food for thought: one third of New Zealanders used a travel agent or tour operator to book a holiday in the last 12 months, a percentage almost identical among Australians. Furthermore, like their trans-Tasman neighbours, more Kiwis choose to book through Flight Centre than any other travel agency.

Of course, with the internet influencing the way travellers organise their holidays, the last few years have seen some significant changes. Overall, fewer Kiwis are using travel agents/tour operators to book their leisure travel than they were in 2009 (38.2%), with the only agencies experiencing increased usage being exclusively online enterprises such as Webjet.

New Zealanders who used travel agent for leisure travel in last 12 months

Click for big version.

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (New Zealand), November 2008-October 2009 (n=11,620); November 2012-October 2013 (n=12,446).

Despite the trend towards internet booking, bricks-and-mortar travel agent Flight Centre has claimed top position among Kiwis’ 10 most popular travel agents/tour operators, snatching the crown from former leader Air New Zealand Holidays. Just over 8% of the New Zealand population booked a holiday via Flight Centre in the last 12 months, while 6.2% used Air New Zealand Holidays. However, both businesses (particularly the latter) have experienced declines since 2009, as the chart below indicates.
Travel agents used for leisure travel in the last 12 months

Click for big version.

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (New Zealand), November 2008-October 2009 (n=11,620); November 2012-October 2013 (n=12,446).

In contrast, Webjet’s popularity almost quadrupled from 0.9% in 2009 to 3.4% in 2013, with fellow online-only operations Wotif and Expedia also growing over the same period.

Curiously, all of the seven bricks-and-mortar travel agents in the Top 10 offer online booking options as well, but this did not result in increased custom for any of them.

Pip Elliott, General Manager, Roy Morgan Research NZ, says:

“Since 2009, Flight Centre has overtaken Air New Zealand Holidays as the travel agent used by most New Zealanders to book their holidays. This is an impressive achievement, given the trend on both sides of the Tasman towards online booking, and is no doubt helped along by the company’s strong brand, comprehensive web presence and famous ‘lowest airfare guarantee’.

“But can it maintain its lead? Of the 10 most popular travel agencies and tour operators used by Kiwis, only those that are exclusively online have shown any growth in custom since 2009.

“With the increasing penetration of laptops, tablets and smartphones in New Zealand, this trend is likely to continue. To remain competitive in this challenging market, bricks-and-mortar travel agents need to ensure they understand who exactly their customers are and what they’re looking for when it comes to planning and booking their holidays.”


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