Nearly half of affluent American travelers prefer visiting travel service providers’ websites to those of online travel agencies (OTAs), says a survey by market research firm MMGY Global.

Half of affluent travelers say that travel service providers’ sites offer the greatest convenience and the best prices.

Among well-to-do travelers, nearly a fifth books through travel service provider sites. Roughly one fourth of them books by phone with a travel service provider. Less than a third of affluent travelers books via OTAs.

The behavior is in stark contrast with travelers who have middle class incomes, who roundly prefer using OTAs.

The MMGY Global survey was of 1,250 active travelers with an annual household income of $125,000 or more.

Upscale needs: Exclusive, custom, bespoke

More than 30% of affluent travelers visited a TripAdvisor-style user-generated site or blog during the past year for information about a destination or a travel service provider.

Among these online researchers, 75% said they prefered to read individual reviews rather than rely on a rating alone. Only one in five of them said they trusted online reviews more than the opinions of their friends and family.

High-priced trips

The affluent market is a rich vein to tap for travel agencies. Travelers who earn $250,000 or more annually took an average of 6.2 leisure trips in 2013.

That’s “significantly more” than the 4.7 vacations on average taken by those with an annual household income between $125,000 – $249,999 last year, says MMGY Global.

For related insights, see Google’s take on affluent travellers: trip planning, videos and multi-screen

NB: Image of waiter via Shutterstock

Original author: Sean O’Neill