This shift in trip booking bucks the trend for online travel sites, which have been more popular than offline agencies throughout the last decade. The reason for this about-face is that many customers are fed up with "unfriendly booking engines and navigation tools" and are seeking the personal touch of an offline agent. "Not so long ago, industry observers cast traditional travel agents as has-beens," said Jeff Grau, senior analyst at eMarketer and author of the report. "Perhaps this has helped them to focus on what they do best: provide travel expertise and personalized service."
Site navigation problems and unpleasant booking engines are driving customers away from online travel sites and pushing them through the doors of traditional, more personable travel agencies. Even though sales for online travel sites are growing, fewer travelers are actually booking their trips online, this eMarketer report said.