|Online Travel Market|
|Travel Industry Online Developments|
A new VFM Leonardo whitepaper reveals the latest trends in hotel research methods including the emergence of multi-device research by consumers, and tips for successfully connecting with consumers across the web.
Online shoppers are increasingly savvy and willing to spend more online. Online shoppers in the US spent $226 billion online in 2012, and that number will climb to $327 billion in 2016, according to estimates by Forrester Research. Forrester says this continued growth is spurred by consumers' greater comfort level with purchasing online, as well as broader web shopping capabilities with mobile and tablet devices.
Traveler shoppers are no different from average shoppers. They use the internet for research and for purchasing more than ever. Eighty-three per cent of leisure travellers use the internet as part of their travel planning; and 65% begin researching online before they've even decided where or how to travel.
Travel consumers are also comparison shoppers. They use all sorts of information to help with their decision-making and that information is found on many different websites, across many different platforms and devices. In fact, mobile browsing of travel websites has more than doubled in the past 12 months to an average 20.5% of all traffic surveyed. (HOTELMARKETING.COM, June 2013)
Vacation rental online bookings surged in the US, jumping from just 12% of the overall vacation rental market in 2007 to 24% in 2012, according to a PhoCusWright ‘US Vacation Rentals 2009-2014: A Market Reinvented' report.
The market's complexity and fragmentation bring lingering challenges, but strong online momentum will continue to drive rapid growth. By 2014, three in ten US dollars spent on vacation rental will be booked online - an online travel penetration just a few points shy of the hotel and lodging segment. (PhoCusWright, May 2013)
US digital travel sales (which include leisure and unmanaged business travel purchased online and via mobile devices) will slowly but steadily increase between 2013 and 2017, achieving a 5.36% compound annual growth rate (CAGR), according to eMarketer report ‘US Digital Travel Sales: Mobile Drives Changes in a Mature Marketplace'. The total will reach $136.4 billion in 2013, an 8% increase from 2012.
US digital travel sales, 2011-2017:
- 2011: $113.9 million (15.1% change)
- 2012: $126.3 million (10.8%)
- 2013: $136.4 million (8.0%)
- 2014: $145.2 million (6.5%)
- 2015: $153.2 million (5.5%)
- 2016: $160.9 million (5.0%)
- 2017: $168.1 million (4.5%)
Despite these gains, travel will continue to lose share as a subset of overall business-to-consumer (B2C) ecommerce because online travel is considerably more mature than other types of online retail. eMarketer estimates that travel made up approximately 36% of all B2C ecommerce sales in 2012, but by 2016, that share will drop to less than 30% and continue to fall steadily.
Digital travel as a percentage of total travel will remain high, however. Digital travel sales accounted for more than 40% of total travel sales in 2012, according to PhoCusWright figures released in November 2012.
Data specifically identifying internet users who have travelled in the past year shows high digital researcher and booker penetration levels across all travel categories. In their May 2012 "Consumer Barometer" survey, Google, Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) Europe and TNS Infratest found that 81% of US internet users who had booked travel in the past 12 months had researched their trips online, while 74% of respondents had booked online.
US travel buyers who research vs. pirchase travel products online, May 2012 (% of respondents in each group):
- Hotel stays: 86% researched online before purchasing vs. 73% who purchased online
- Package holidays: 82% vs. 70%
- Leisure flights: 81 vs. 76%
- Total travel: 81% vs. 74%
During the recession, online travel agencies (OTAs) achieved prominence and sped up the trend toward booking travel online. As the economy continues to strengthen, travel brands are focusing on reversing this trend and driving more full-price bookings directly from their own websites - a model known as ‘direct distribution'. According to PhoCusWright, this strategy has so far been successful, and by 2014, two-thirds of all online bookings for hotels, cruises and airline tickets will be made through suppliers' websites, rather than through third-party OTAs.
Hotel data from TravelClick confirmed that all online channels are gaining market share in terms of actual reservations as well. (TravelClick's data covers the top 25 markets in North America, all of which are in the US save Toronto.) Hotel websites (the leading reservations channel for all online and offline bookings) gained more than half a percentage point in market share in 2012, growing from 26.1% to 26.7%. During that time, OTAs' market share rose more sharply from a smaller base, garnering 10.4% of total hotel bookings, up from 9.5% in 2011.
While digital travel sales overall will experience slow, steady growth during the next few years, one component will grow sharply: mobile booking. eMarketer's estimate for mobile travel sales (which includes both tablets and smartphones) will nearly double this year, increasing from $7 billion to $13.6 billion. The 2013 estimate will account for 10% of the total digital travel market. By 2017, eMarketer estimates mobile travel sales will total nearly $50 billion, and account for almost 30% of all digital travel sales.
US mobile travel sales, 2011-2017:
- 2011: $3.4 billion (3.0% of digital travel sales)
- 2012: $7.0 billion (5.5%)
- 2013: $13.6 billion (10.0%)
- 2014: $23.2 billion (16.0%)
- 2015: $32.2 billion (21.0%)
- 2016: $40.2 billion (25.0%)
- 2017: $48.8 billion (29.0%)
(eMarketer, May 2013)
A new study from Mobiquity of 1,000 US consumers has shed further light on what travellers are doing with their mobiles and tablets, examining the role of both devices in the research and booking phases of the so-called travel cycle.
Highlights and infographics of the report include:
- Poor mobile experiences with travel brands impact future revenues, with 35% of connected travellers who have an unsatisfactory mobile experience with a travel brand less likely to book again.
- After research on their tablets, 1 in 4 tablet owners book on their tablets.
- Tablet is preferred for booking future travel, smartphones for on-the-go.
- 76% of smartphone will use their devices to book travel or rooms when on-the-go.
How people book travel after researching on tablet:
- Online via a desktop: 54%
- Via mobile website on tablet: 26%
- Via mobile app on tablet: 16%
- Via mobile website on smartphone: 8%
- By phone with the brand: 9%
- Via mobile app on smartphone: 9%
How people book travel after researching on smartphone:
- Online via desktop: 62%
- Via mobile website on smartphone: 19%
- Via mobile app on smartphone: 15%
- Via mobile website on tablet: 12%
- By phone with the brand: 11%
- Via mobile app on tablet: 9%
(tnooz, April 2013)
Tealeaf Technology's ‘The Digital Consumer' report from September 2012 broke down tablet usage by age across industries in the US and the UK. In its study of travel research and booking on tablets, there was only one similarity between the two markets: Consumers in the 35-to-44 age group were the most likely to research travel via tablet. One in five UK consumers were tablet travel researchers, compared to a quarter of US consumers in the same age group.
US internet users who have researched or purchased travel products via tablet, by age, September 2012 (% of respondents in each group):
- 18-24: 3% researched and 13% purchased travel
- 25-34: 18% and 9%
- 35-44: 25% and 9%
- 45-54: 16% and 1%
- 55+: 10% and 3%
Otherwise, travel research and booking behaviours on tablets differed noticeably in the two countries. For example, 19% of UK consumers ages 25 to 34 researched travel via tablet, but only 5% booked. A slightly lower percentage of US consumers in that age group researched travel on tablets; however, 9% booked.
According to the study, these trends reversed as consumers aged. UK consumers ages 35 and over were less likely to research travel on tablets than US consumers, but were as likely, or more likely, to book. Looking at the 45-to-54 age group, Tealeaf found that only 8% of UK consumers researched travel via tablet, but 5% booked. On the other hand, 16% of US consumers in the same age group researched, but only 1% booked.
Based on this study, the implications for travel marketers are clear: Younger US consumers and older UK consumers are more likely to yield higher tablet conversion rates. (eMarketer, April 2013)
Industry websites' performance varies across devices and metrics, according to a January 2013 study by Adobe examining how various industries' US websites stacked up in terms of site performance.
When it comes to how long consumers spend on websites, for instance, Adobe found that the top-performing site in the travel and hospitality industry ranked second in January 2013, with over 9 minutes per visit (9.29 minutes), while the average site performance for the industry stood at 7.70 minutes per visit. Adobe noted that adding video and rich media to websites helped boost minutes per visit.
Time spent on US websites in selected industries, top-performing site vs. average, January 2013:
1. Media & entertainment: 11.84 minutes for top-performing site vs. an average over all this industry site of 8.88 minutes
2. Travel & hospitality: 9.29 minutes vs. average of 7.70 minutes
3. Retail: 8.81 minutes vs. average of 7.51 minutes
4. High tech: 7.76 minutes vs. average of 7.15 minutes
5. Financial services: 6.77 minutes vs. average of 6.09 minutes.
Overall, travel and hospitality pages averaged the highest stick rate, while media and entertainment fared worst by this measure. But, the top-performing site with the highest stick rate was from the financial services industry. Adobe suggested that stick rate is an important indicator of acquisition and engagement. The more consumers engaged with content, the likelier they were to convert.
Average of stick rate of US websites in selected industries, January 2013:
1. Travel & hospitality: 57%
2. Retail: 55%
3. Financial services: 52%
4. High tech: 45%
5. Media & entertainment: 39%
More disparity surfaced between the top-performing site vs. average site peformance when it came to tablet and smartphone traffic. According to Adobe, the top-performing site that got the greatest share of traffic from smartphones was again in the media and entertainment category, with top-performing retail sites and travel and hospitality closely trailing behind. The average percent of internet traffic coming from smartphones to these categories was over 10% for each.
When it comes to tablets, retailers, perhaps unsurprisingly, take a fair amount of internet traffic. The top-performing retailer site studied got 13% of internet traffic from tablets. Travel's top-performing site trailed closely behind, with 12.6% of internet traffic from tablets.
Sites optimized for tablets and smartphones are more likely to encourage mobile purchases, and conversion will be increasingly important on the devices going forward. eMarketer expects US mobile buyers to reach nearly 73 million this year, up 38% from 2012. (eMarketer, March 2013)
US travel e-commerce sales reached US$103 billion for the full 2012 year, an increase of 9% versus the prior year, according to comScore Full Year and Q4 2012 US travel e-commerce sales estimates. Air Travel accounted for nearly two-thirds of all travel spending while growing 10% vs. year ago.
2012 travel spending by sub-category, full year 2012 (total US - home and work computers):
TOTAL TRAVEL E-COMMERCE: US$102,951 million (+9% compared to 2011)
- Air travel: US$66,529 million (+10%), representing 65% share of travel spending
- Hotel reservations: US$19,384 million (+7%), representing 19% share of travel spending
- Car rental: US$9,698 million (+6%), representing 9% share of travel spending
- Travel packages: US$5,140 million (+10%), representing 5% share of travel spending
- Other travel: US$2,200 million (+10%), representing 2% share of travel spending
(comScore, February 2013)
Mobile travel bookings may have started out as a footnote on the balance sheet, but smartphones and tablets are on track to capture nearly one in five online travel dollars by 2014, according to PhoCusWright's ‘US Mobile Travel Report: Market Sizing and Consumer Trends' report.
The study found that mobile leisure/unmanaged business travel bookings will more than triple from 2012 to 2014, when mobile bookings will reach US$25.8 billion.
While using a mobile phone to purchase travel products is not yet mainstream, the share of travelers who have done so is growing. In 2012, three in ten mobile web users booked/purchased travel products such as hotel rooms or flights via their mobile phone, up from 26% in 2011. By comparison, more than eight in ten mobile web users viewed maps/directions via a mobile phone, while over half researched travel destinations or products. (PhoCusWright FYI, February 2013)
The travel industry is highly focused on mobile bookings, but research shows that many consumers are still not ready to make large travel purchases via mobile devices.
More than three-quarters of US travellers had purchased travel on a PC in the past six months, according to an Expedia Media Solutions and comScore study ‘The Rise of Mobile: Adoption, Sentiment & Opportunity' conducted in August 2012.
On mobile devices, travellers who had made other product purchases on their mobile devices were much more hesitant to book travel: only 34% had booked travel through their tablet in that timeframe, and 28% had booked via smartphone.
US travellers who have purchased products or booked travel through selected devices, August 2012 (% of respondents in each group):
- PC: 85% purchased product; 77% booked travel
- Tablet: 61% purchased product; 34% booked travel
- Smartphone: 51% purchased product; 28% booked travel.
Breaking down these purchases by travel category, the Expedia and comScore study also found that more than half of these US travellers purchased hotel reservations via laptop, while only 17% booked hotels via tablet, and 11% via smartphone. Likewise, 46% of air travelers purchased flights on their PC, but only about one in 10 used either tablets or smartphones to buy airfare in the past six months.
US travellers who use selected devices to book travel, by category, August 2012 (% of respondents):
- Hotel: 51% via PC / 17% via Tablet / 11% via Smartphone
- Air travel: 46% via PC / 11% via Tablet / 9% via Smartphone
- Ground transport: 21% via PC / 10% via Tablet / 7% via Smartphone
- Attractions/activities: 14% via PC / 10% via Tablet / 10% via Smartphone
- Restaurant: 10% via PC / 9% via Tablet / 10% via Smartphone
- TOTAL: 77% via PC / 34% via Tablet / 28% via Smartphone
These bigger travel buys via mobile devices trail PC purchases by a wide margin; however, travellers were about as likely to make in-destination travel bookings (such as attractions, activities and restaurants) through tablets or smartphones as through a computer. Notably, a minimum of about one in 10 travellers used mobile devices for nearly all types of travel bookings, regardless of price. (eMarketer, December 2012)
40% of US online travel consumers entered the purchase funnel through search engines, according to a Q2 2012 survey from iPerceptions. And as smartphones and tablets become more ubiquitous, some of that search traffic is coming from mobile.
Notably, The Search Agency's "State of Paid Search Report Q3 2012" found that tablets gained a full 8 percentage points of paid click share year-over-year, while smartphones also jumped 3 percentage points in that time period.
US travel and leisure paid search click share, by device, Q3 2011 - Q3 2012 (% of total):
Q3 2011: computer (94.7%) / Tablet (3.8%) / Smartphone (1.4%)
Q4 2011: computer (91.9%) / Tablet (6.2) / Smartphone (1.9%)
Q1 2012: computer (88.1%) / Tablet (8.7%) / Smartphone (3.2%)
Q2 2012: computer (85.9%) / Tablet (10.4%) / Smartphone (3.7%)
Q3 2012: computer (83.8%) / Tablet (11.8%) / Smartphone (4.4%)
Of course, nearly 84% of all paid search travel clicks still occurred on the PC in Q3 2012, and mobile's growth may be at least partially attributed to the relative newness of the medium.
When it came to engagement with paid search travel ads, The Search Agency also reported that US overall paid search clickthrough rates (CTRs) for travel and leisure dropped considerably year-over-year from Q3 2011, falling 34%, from 7.94% down to 5.28%. Despite the precipitous decline, though, travel and leisure still leads all US industries in CTRs by a notable margin, with clickthrough rates 38% higher than the next best clickthrough performer. The report noted that the decline was mainly due to the fact that impressions increased by 59% while clicks increased by only 6%, which points to increased competition in the search engine marketing (SEM) space. (eMarketer, December 2012)
Clearly, mobile is a channel with huge potential, but mobile travel booking significantly lags behind mobile travel research. eMarketer expects the gap to narrow slightly by 2016, but the number of actual bookers still will be only half that of travel researchers. By comparison, the ratio of online travel bookers to online travel researchers in 2012 is closer to 4:5.
Despite the obstacles, there is a small but significant amount of travel booking being done via smartphone. And much of that booking is same-day purchases, according to eMarketer. When travel shoppers use their mobile phones, they tend to be looking for a last-minute flight, car rental or hotel room. Recent data reported by some of the largest online travel agencies showed just how common last-minute booking is: Both Orbitz and Travelocity have reported that more than 60% of hotel bookings made on mobile phones were for the same day.
Consumers are using smartphones to guide their travels from start to finish, whether that's for last-minute bookings, connecting to destination-related information or seeking personalized recommendations.
Numerous challenges, however, are slowing the mass adoption of mobile travel tools, particularly those designed for making travel reservations, according to a eMarketer report, "The Mobile Traveler: How Smartphones Are Changing the Customer Journey."
Already, smartphones have had a strong impact on the travel industry, and increasing mobile device adoption will continue to influence the way consumers make travel plans. In 2012, roughly 36 million Americans will use a smartphone to research travel. eMarketer estimates that number will double by 2016. Over the same time period, eMarketer forecasts that the number of smartphone-using travel bookers will jump from 15.8 million to 36.3 million.
US smartphone travel researchers, 2010-2016:
- 2010:17.2 million (16.0% of online travel researchers)
- 2011: 27.1 million (23.7%)
- 2012: 36.4 million (30.4%)
- 2013: 45.0 million (36.4%)
- 2014: 53.6 million (42.1%)
- 2015: 62.8 million (47.9%)
- 2016: 72.6 million (53.9%)
US smartphone travel bookers, 2010-2016:
- 2010: 8.0 million (9.2% of online travel bookers)
- 2011: 11.9 million (12.6%)
- 2012: 15.8 million (16.1%)
- 2013: 20.0 million (19.6%)
- 2014: 25.0 million (23.8%)
- 2015: 30.2 million (27.9%)
- 2016: 36.3 million (32.5%)
(eMarketer, August 2012)
The US online travel industry is set to reach $162 billion in 2012, up some 74% since 2007, according to Infographics compiled by funsherpa. 87% of travellers used the internet for a bulk of their travel planning.
Top online activities for US travellers:
- 62% researched an upcoming trip
- 45% sourced initial trip idea
- 43% read reviews from other travellers
- 31% watched travel video
- 24% read travel related blog
- 16% posted travel reviews
- 11% uploaded video related to past travel
- 11% commented on travel reviews
- 9% commented on travel related video
- 7% participated in travel related blog.
Funsherpa Infographics also illustrate social media influence on US travellers, with more than half (52%) of travellers having changed their plans after researching their trip on social media sites, and 50% of travel companies saying that direct bookings have been generated from social media.
Social media influence on US travellers:
- 70% update their Facebook status while on vacation
- 52% of travellers have changed their original travel plans
- 50% of travel companies surveyed agreed that direct bookings were generated from social media
- 46% check in to a location (eg Facebook and Foursquare) while on vacation
- 33% changed their hotel
- 10% switched resorts
- 10% changed agent/operator/website
- 7% holidayed in a different country
- 5% switched airlines.
Most popular post vacation activities:
- 76% post vacation photos to a social network
- 55% ‘liked' Facebook pages specific to a vacation
- 46% of travellers post hotel reviews
- 40% post activity/attraction reviews
- 40% post restaurant reviews.
Usage of mobile phones for travel info:
- 85% of leisure travellers use their smartphone while travelling
- 30% have used mobile apps to find hotel deals
- 29% of travellers have used mobile apps to find flight deals
- 15% have downloaded mobile apps specific to upcoming vacations.
(Mediabistro.com, July 2012)
Online corporate travel bookings in the US have grown significantly, and are expected to increase through 2013, when 56% of all corporate travel dollars will be spent online, according to PhoCusWright's U.S. Corporate Travel Report: Market Size and Technology Trends report.
A combination of recessionary pressures, advances in technology and changes in US business traveler behaviour has driven strong growth in the online corporate travel marketplace. The report indicates that a new wave of companies either turned to online booking tools, or else accelerated their online adoption efforts during the recession.
In 2009, the online channel accounted for half of all corporate travel bookings. But the recession brought greater emphasis on cost-cutting, and more companies began to insist that employees book their air, car and hotel online to save money. In addition, mobile and tablet apps have quickly gained popularity, as companies seek to accommodate their travelers' preferred modes of behavior. (PhoCusWright, June 2012)
Nearly three fourths of US travellers who use search engines to plan travel look for hotel rooms, while just 58% search for airline tickets, according to PhoCusWright's Reading Between the Links: Why Travelers Use General Search Engines. (PhoCusWright, June 2012)
51% of US smartphone owners accessed travel content on their devices during the three month period ending February 2012, according to results from a US study on mobile travel activities based on data from comScore Travel Advisor report.
Four in every five mobile travellers access both air and hotel content. The most popular air travel-related mobile activity was checking airfare prices, in which 26% of all smartphone users engaged. Smartphone users were nearly as likely to look up an airline phone number, flight schedules, and check a flight's status, each of which was conducted by 25% of the audience.
While many of the most popular behaviours were consumers seeking information, they also engaged in transactional behavior. Nearly 1 in every 5 smartphone owners using their device to book air travel or hotel reservations with 21% of smartphone consumers checking in for a flight on their device, while 18% booking a flight on their smartphone and 10% cancelling a flight.
Top mobile air activities while planning a trip or travelling during previous three months to February 2012 (total US Smartphone subscribers ages 18+):
1. Checked airfare prices: 26%
2. Looked up a phone number (i.e. airline): 25%
3. Looked at flights schedules: 25%
4. Checked a flight status (arrival/delays): 25%
5. Looked up airport information: 24%
6. Checked in for a flight: 21%
7. Received price alerts for flights: 19%
8. Booked a flight: 18%
9. Received SMS alerts for a flight status: 17%
10. Tracked the status of a checked bag: 13%
11. Cancelled a flight: 10%
Among hotel-related mobile activities, looking up hotel address/directions was the most popular (conducted by 29% of smartphone owners), followed by researching attractions or things to do near hotel (23%). Reading hotel reviews and comparing hotel prices and availability were performed by more than 1 in 5 smartphone owners in the past three months, while 18% used their device to book a hotel room.
Top mobile hotel activities while planning a trip or travelling during previous three months to February 2012 (total US Smartphone subscribers ages 18+):
1. Looked up hotel address/directions: 29%
2. Looked up/ researched attractions/ things to do at my destination/near my hotel: 23%
3. Looked up/researched places to eat at my destination/near my hotel : 22%
4. Read a hotel review: 22%
5. Compared hotel prices & availability: 21%
6. Booked a hotel room: 18%
7. Received price alerts for hotels: 18%
8. Looked up/researched ground transportation at my destination/near my hotel: 17%
9. Cancelled a hotel reservation: 10%
Compared to the average smartphone owner the mobile traveller was more likely to be younger and male, a fairly typical profile for early technology adopters. 62% of smartphone owners that accessed travel information were male, compared to 52% of the entire smartphone audience, while 78% of smartphone travellers were between the ages of 18-44, compared to 63% of the total smartphone audience. Mobile travellers tended to have similar income levels compared to the average smartphone owner with approximately half of each audiences residing in households earning at least $75,000 annually.
Demographic profile of Smartphone travel user, February 2012 (total US Smartphone subscribers ages 18+):
- Male: 62% of mobile travel Smartphone audience / 52% of total Smartphone Audience
- Female: 38% / 48%
- 18-24: 21% / 17%
- 25-34: 33% / 25%
- 35-44: 24% / 21%
- 45-54: 11% / 16%
- 55-64: 8% / 9%
- 65+: 4% / 6%
- <$25k: 7% / 11%
- $25k to <$50k: 23% / 20%
- $50k to <$75k: 22% / 19%
- $75k to <$100k: 23% / 16%
- $100k+: 26% / 34%
(comScore, April 2012)
Total spending on online travel is expected to reach nearly $120 billion this year in the US, representing a healthy 11% growth for the industry, according to eMarketer. But compared to overall online retail sales, online growth for travel is slow, indicating maturity in the market.
The US mobile travel market is growing more quickly. eMarketer estimates 16 million Americans will book travel via mobile this year, up from just over 12 million in 2011. By 2016, the number of mobile users booking travel on their devices is expected to more than double to 36.7 million. And significantly more mobile users will research, but not necessarily purchase, travel on their phones throughout the forecast period: 37.8 million this year, rising to 74.3 million by 2016.
US mobile travel bookers by device, 2011-2016:
- 2011: 12.1 million (of which 11.9 million are smartphone and 0.2 million are feature phone)
- 2012: 16.0 million (15.8 million / 0.2 million)
- 2013: 20.2 million (20.0 million / 0.2 million)
- 2014: 25.3 million (25.0 million / 0.3 million)
- 2015: 30.6 million (30.2 million / 0.4 million)
- 2016: 36.7 million (36.3 million / 0.4 million)
Over the same period, total online sales of leisure and unmanaged business travel will rise from $119.2 million to $151.9 million.
US online travel sales, 2010-2016:
- 2010: $99.0 billion (+10.0%)
- 2011: $107.4 billion (+8.5%)
- 2012: $119.2 billion (+11.0%)
- 2013: $128.8 billion (+8.0%)
- 2014: $137.1 billion (+6.5%)
- 2015: $144.7 billion (+5.5%)
- 2016: $151.9 billion (+5.0%)
eMarketer expects nearly 120 million US adult internet users to research travel online this year, and 98.3 million to book travel via the web-a solid majority of internet users. By 2012, these numbers will rise to 134.7 million and 111.5 million, respectively.
eMarketer forms its estimates of online and mobile travel research, booking and sales based on the analysis of data from benchmark source PhoCusWright, estimates from other research firms, historical trends, reported and estimated revenues from major online retailers, consumer online buying trends, macro-level economic conditions and internet and mobile adoption trends. (eMarketer, April 2012)
Although US online leisure/unmanaged business travel market growth continues to outpace the total travel market, the days of lightning-fast online growth are gone for good, according to PhoCusWright.
The share of US travel booked online (i.e., online leisure/unmanaged business travel as a share of the total market) will increase to 40% by 2013, growing just one percentage point over five years. Yet despite the slowing overall growth trend, online penetration continues to vary significantly by segment.
Only two segments were expected to book half or more of their sales online in 2011: air (50%) and rail (54%). At the other end of the spectrum, online bookings were projected to comprise only 11% of cruise and 5% of traditional vacation packages. Both segments rely heavily on traditional travel agencies for distribution.
With the US online market at a stage of maturity, in the short term, rail and hotel and lodging are the only segments expected to gain significant share in online penetration. By 2013, 56% of Amtrak's tickets will be booked on Amtrak.com, and one-third of hotel and lodging will be booked online, up from 29% in 2009. (PhoCusWright FYI, January 2012)
60% of American consumers say they factor other travellers' online reviews into their plans when booking a vacation, according to the third annual Access America Vacation Confidence Index released by Mondial Assistance USA.
With the growing popularity and influence of social media and online review sites, it isn't surprising that more and more consumers are using these sites as resources when booking their travel, according to Daniel Durazo, director of communications for Mondial Assistance. In these tough economic times, consumers want assurance that if they are going to spend on travel, they are selecting the best experiences, and reviews from peers and colleagues act as a security blanket for uncertain travellers.
Other findings include:
- Travellers under 35 are most likely to say that online travel reviews influence their travel plans (74%) while those 55 and over are least likely to be influenced by reviews (44%).
- Nearly 79% of respondents with a household income of $75,000 or more factor other travellers' reviews into their own plans, while less than half of those with an income of under $25,000 do so (46%).
- Nearly two thirds of respondents (63%) find other travellers' reviews to be trustworthy, while 29% are less trusting.
- Travellers under 35 are more likely than those who are older to trust the travel reviews they read (70% vs. 54%).
- Over three quarters of respondents with a household income of $75,000 or more (77%) find travel reviews to be trustworthy compared to just half of those with an income of under $25,000 (50%).
- Social Networking Sites are most popular for sharing: among travellers who share reviews of their travel experiences online (24% of respondents), social networking sites such as Facebook are most popular. Nearly one in five (18%) say that they share their travel experiences on social networks, more than double the proportion of those who post on travel review sites (8%).
- Young Adults, Affluent are more likely to share online: Adults under 35 are more likely than those who are 35+ to share their travel experiences online (35% vs. 20%), particularly on social media sites (29% vs. 6%). More affluent adults are also more likely to share about their travels. More than a third of those with a household income of $75,000 or more (36%) share their travel reviews online, compared to 15% of those with a household income of less than $25,000, and they are twice as likely to use social networks to do so (24% vs. 12%).
The Access America Vacation Confidence Index is based on a telephone survey conducted by Ipsos November 2-7, 2011 of a nationally representative sample of 1,000 randomly-selected adults aged 18 and over residing in the U.S. (Travel Industry Wire, December 2011)
Smartphones are empowering a segment of hotel customers often overlooked by the industry: last-minute buyers who aren't travelling. Hoping to draw impulsive buyers addicted to daily coupon alerts, hotels and online travel agencies are introducing a flurry of new specials and features targeting those who book a room locally on the day of the stay.
They include couples celebrating anniversaries; long-distance commuters working late; people without electricity; travellers whose flights are cancelled; and suburban deal seekers who can't resist a 30% discount at a fancy downtown hotel. (HOTELMARKETING.COM, December 2011)
There will be 117.6 million online travel researchers (61% of internet users) and 98.3 million online travel bookers (51% of internet users) in the US by 2012, according to estimates by eMarketer.
These consumers are going online for information at more points in the travel process - before, during and after a trip. The sheer number of online travel researchers and bookers elevates the importance of online reputation.
US online travel researchers and bookers, 2009-2012:
- 2009: 102.0 million researchers (58% of internet users) / 82.6 million bookers (47% of internet users)
- 2010: 107.2 million (59%) / 87.2 million (48%)
- 2011: 114.5 million (61%) / 93.9 million (50%)
- 2012: 117.6 million (61%) / 98.3 million (51%)
(eMarketer, November 2011)
Today's US travel consumers make use of a growing variety of web resources to help them research and book travel. This list has evolved beyond branded promotional material to include ratings, reviews, videos, photos and social media commentary from travel peers. More than ever before, this positive and negative online information has the ability to make or break purchase decisions.
A brand's website is one of its most visible owned assets and can serve as a central hub for content delivered through multiple channels to support reputation management. February 2011 research by Ypartnership and the Harrison Group illustrated the importance of brand sites to travellers. It found 46% of respondents in a survey of active travellers used branded supplier sites when booking travel.
Sources typically used by US active travellers when booking travel, February 2011:
- Online travel agency: 62%
- Branded supplier site: 46%
- Meta search site: 14%
- Traditional travel agent: 9%
- Collective buying site: 5%
- Private sale site: 5%
Branded sites may be among the easiest for travel firms to control, but they are just one among many sources for consumers to research and book travel. Brands must also focus on paid and earned media, in addition to their owned assets, to create and implement an overall online reputation management strategy. (eMarketer, November 2011)
The US online travel market is maturing, according to PhoCusWright's "U.S. Online Travel Overview, Eleventh Edition" report. The percentage of travel in the US booked online currently stands around 39% and will modestly inch upwards to just 40% in 2013, according to PhoCusWright. After years of unabated growth, online sales are practically in sidestep with the total market, growing only slightly faster on the strength of continued share shift from offline to online channels.
The PhoCusWright study found that suppliers in 2011 have secured a 62% share of the leisure/unmanaged online travel market compared with a 38% hold by the OTAs. Most of the shift is due to the strength of airline websites, which will represent 72% of all online air bookings by 2012, according to PhoCusWright.
While leisure travel demand in the US is relatively soft, the comeback of managed and unmanaged business travel in the last two years catapulted supplier websites, as well as traditional travel agencies and travel management companies, ahead of OTAs in 2011, according to PhoCusWright, although the business travel advantage may evaporate in 2012. (tnooz, November 2011)
After its only decline on record in 2009, the US online leisure/unmanaged business travel market will grow 10% in 2011 to reach $109 billion, according to PhoCusWright's U.S. Online Travel Overview Eleventh Edition report. With a struggling US economy, online travel growth will slow to single-digit gains over the next two years, trailed by the overall travel market. (PhoCusWright FYI, November 2011)
US travellers who plan and book trips online are more likely to be early adopters of new technology, more likely to own a smartphone and take about three leisure trips a year, according to PhoCusWright's Traveler Technology Survey 2011, which surveyed 1,948 online travelers.
The appetite for new technology is often coupled with a strong appetite for travel, according to Carroll Rheem, director of research for PhoCusWright, which tracks travel trends.
According to the survey results, 47% of US online travellers are on the cutting edge or are early adopters of new technologies. Of those early adopters, 71% own a smartphone and take an average of 3.3 leisure trips a year, spending an average of $3,712 annually.
US online travellers by level of technology adoption:
- Late adopters / resisters: 30% of total online travellers / 27% of smartphones
- Mainstream users: 23% / 43%
- Cutting edge / early adopters: 47% / 71%
Of the 1,125 online travellers who access the internet via a smartphone, 79% view maps or get directions, 62% research local activities such as restaurants or shows, 43% research travel products such as hotel rooms or flights and 42% reference existing travel information, such as itineraries.
While the travellers surveyed were comfortable researching information on a smartphone, however, many were more inclined to switch over to a computer to enter credit card information.
When it comes to online social networks, 79% of travellers said they participated in at least one, up from 70% in 2010. (HOTELMARKTING.COM, November 2011)
Generation X (the first generation to grow up with PCs) is as comfortable with digital as with traditional media, according to an eMarketer report "Gen X: Demographic Profile and Marketing Approaches".
Gen X constitutes the largest online video audience. eMarketer forecasts that 74.2.% of Gen X internet users (or 43.3 million) will watch online video at least monthly in 2011, and that percentage is expected to grow to 80% (48.5 million) by 2015.
eMarketer estimates that 88% of the segment are web users in 2011, and that number is expected to increase to 90.9% by 2015. They are slightly more likely than the general population to visit online retail sites and significantly more likely to visit mobile retail sites, according to comScore.
Top product categories purchased online by Gen Xers in fall 2010 included apparel, airline tickets, books and hotel reservations, according to a survey by GfK MRI.
Top ten product categories purchased online by US Gen X consumers, Fall 2010:
1. Clothing/apparel: 21.9% of respondents
2. Airline tickets: 19.9%
3. Books: 18.2%
4. Hotel reservations: 16.1%
5. Banking services: 14.3%
6. Shoes/footwear: 11.2%
7. Toys/games: 9.4%
8. Mobile phones/accessories: 9.4%
9. Tickets - movies: 7.8%
10. Computer software / accessories: 7.7%
(eMarketer, August 2011)
The number of leisure travellers who enjoyed using the Web to plan and book their vacations dropped from 53% in 2007 to 47% in 2010, according to a study by Forrester Research. And in an American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) survey, 44% of agents said that they had more clients in 2010 than they had had the previous year, with the strongest rebound in rail and hotel reservations.
John Clifford, president of the luxury travel consultancy InternationalTravelManagement.com. illustrate these statistics by indicating that not only are customers confused and frustrated by new airline fees and events, but they are bombarded by social media, and everyone is trying to tell you where you should stay, where you should eat, what you should do. (HOTELMARKETING.COM, May 2011)
The business travel market has been improving, but measuring it can be a challenge. Historically, managed business travel has constituted about 40% of all travel sales, but the lines between managed business, unmanaged business and leisure can be difficult to draw. PhoCusWright estimated that managed corporate travel grew 15% in 2010 and accounted for 36% of the total $255 billion travel market. In 2011, the firm estimates this percentage will be slightly higher.
US total trade sales and managed corporate travel share, 2008-2010:
- 2008: US$274 billion total travel sales / 38% of managed corporate travel share
- 2009: US$233 billion / 33%
- 2010: US$255 billion / 36%
As travellers demand to use the same online travel tools for business as they use in their personal life, corporate travel professionals are seeing promise in social media. A May 2010 AirPlus International study found that 52.2% of European and North American travel management professionals said social media sites had the potential to increase traveller satisfaction through real time knowledge sharing. And 41.8% said social media could help travel managers understand what is important to travellers.
Mobile is also revolutionizing the travel industry and has significant potential to improve many facets of the travel experience. (eMarketer, May 2011)
US online sales of leisure and unmanaged business travel will increase another 8.5% in 2011 to $107.4 billion, up from $99 billion in 2010, according to estimates by eMarketer.
US online travel sales, 2009-2015:
- 2009: $90.0 billion (-5.3% change)
- 2010: $99.0 billion (+10.0%)
- 2011: $107.4 billion (+8.5%)
- 2012: $119.2 billion (+11.0%)
- 2013: $128.8 billion (+8.0%)
- 2014: $137.1 billion (+6.5%)
- 2015: $144.7 billion (+5.5%)
eMarketer benchmarks its US online travel sales projections against figures from PhoCusWright, for which the last full year measured was 2009, and bases its forecast on a meta-analysis of data from several research firms, as well as overall travel industry trends.
The number of US consumers researching and booking travel online is still growing. More than 114 million people will research travel online this year, and 93.9 million will book it. But the percentage of US internet users doing so has stabilized. The online travel market is now mature, and only modest growth in the percentage of all trips booked online is expected.
US online travel researchers and bookers, 2009-2012:
- 2009: 102.0 million researchers (58% of internet users) / 82.6 million (47% of internet users)
- 2010: 107.2 million (59%) / 87.2 million (48%)
- 2011: 114.5 million (61%) / 93.9 million (50%)
- 2012: 117.6 million (61%0 / 98.3 million (51%)
Growth in spending is coming largely from a rise in airfares, hotel rates and ancillary fees, which increase the aggregate dollar amount of online bookings.
In 2011, eMarketer estimates, the average amount each online travel booker will spend is $1,145. That will go up to $1,213 next year.
Mobile travel research and booking Mobile travel research and booking is also on the rise. eMarketer expects this less-mature channel to attract 24.6 million travel researchers and 11.8 million bookers this year. (eMarketer, April 2011)
Non-transactional sites are a necessary stop for many online travel shoppers, influencing not only what travellers buy, but also where they buy it, according to PhoCusWright's Online Traffic and Conversion Report, Second Edition. Travellers who visit planning and reviews, meta-search or other types of non-transactional websites have a higher conversion rate than other visitors - but PhoCusWright found that the trend only applies for suppliers.
Air shoppers who visit both a non-transactional site and an airline supplier site convert at a much higher rate than other visitors. For example, airline website shoppers who also visit meta-search engines convert at 16%, while others convert at less than 10%. Those who visit non-transactional websites do not show any notable difference in conversion among OTA air shoppers.
The difference in conversion rates is less dramatic with hotel products, yet the trend still holds. Supplier websites still have higher conversion rates among non-transactional site visitors whereas OTAs generally do not. In fact, non-transactional site visitors often convert at a lower level on OTAs than other visitors.
The benefit of advertising on non-transactional websites may be stronger for suppliers than for OTAs, but value still exists for OTAs due to the substantial audience visiting these informational categories. Nearly a quarter of air shoppers interact with a lead generator, while more than a quarter of hotel shoppers visit a planning and reviews site. (PhoCusWright FYI, March 2011)
Nearly 25 million US mobile users will research travel information on their mobile devices before making a trip in 2011, according to an eMarketer report entitled "Mobile Travel Takes Off: Emerging Trends and Best Practices for Marketers". Nearly 12 million will use the mobile channel to book their plans. The vast majority of both groups will be made up of smartphone users.
US mobile travel researchers, by device, 2010-2012:
- 2010: 19.7 million (of which 16.6 million smartphone users and 3.1 million non-smartphone users)
- 2011: 24.6 million (21.3 million / 3.3 million)
- 2012: 29.7 million (26.2 million / 3.5 million)
US mobile travel bookers, by device, 2010-2012:
- 2010: 8.7 million (of which 7.7 million smartphone users and 1.0 million non-smartphone users)
- 2011: 11.8 million (10.7 million / 1.1 million)
- 2012: 15.1 million (13.9 million / 1.2 million)
By 2012, 34% of smartphone users and 31% of mobile internet users in the US will research travel via mobile. At the same time, 18% of smartphone users and 16% of mobile internet users will book travel the same way.
US mobile travel researchers, 2010-2012 (% of smartphone users, mobile internet users and mobile phone users):
- 2010: 30% of smartphone users / 28% of mobile internet users / 10% of mobile phone users
- 2011: 32% / 30% / 12%
- 2012: 34% / 31% / 14%
(eMarketer, March 2011)
Leisure travellers are using their mobile devices during trips to explore, navigate and book travel - and they are hungry to do even more, according to PhoCusWright's study of the travel activities marketplace, When They Get There (and Why They Go): Activities, Attractions, Events and Tours. While many travelers are already completing a range of travel-related tasks via mobile, future intent predicts a major shift in the way travellers make decisions while in destination.
Four out of five active travellers (i.e., travelers who have purchased or participated in an activity, attraction, event or tour while traveling in the past year) report traveling with mobile phones. Among those who do, the most common functions used are capturing photos/videos, checking email, viewing maps, and finding attractions/activities on maps.
Over 40% of active travellers used their mobile devices to research activities during their last trip, and nearly 40% reported reserving/purchasing activities. These already significant adoption rates are dwarfed by future intent. Nearly two thirds of active travelers with mobile phones indicate that they are likely to use them to research and purchase activities in the future. One third are likely to check in to a location-enabled social network.
This dramatic change in the way travellers access information during their trips creates fresh opportunities to monetize travel activities, opening the door to providing timely, personalized activities content and last-minute bookings. (PhoCusWright FYI, March 2011)
Customer satisfaction with online travel in the US has jumped 1.3% to a new all-time high, according to The American Customer Satisfaction Index's (ACSI) annual E-commerce Report.
The report indicates that if the sustainability of online travel aggregator business was ever in question, we now can see that it is an industry that is here to stay. From 2005 to 2008, the industry was on a declining trend, but now, they have reversed that trend, which is remarkable considering the travel industry is one where lots of variables are out of the companies' control.
Expedia is joined at the top of the industry by the "all others" category with a score of 79. Travelocity, which placed last in the industry in 2010, increases its score one percent to 77, beating Orbitz (-1% to 75) and Priceline (-4% to 73). With a three point drop, Priceline saw the largest decline in the industry, according to the report. Last year, Priceline jumped from a 72 to a 76, which was the largest gain in the group and put them just below the industry aggregate score of 77.
The report said that Priceline's aggressive pricing has resulted in high revenues over the past year, but their drop in score tells us that the future is not as bright. Their pricing approach may not be as valuable to consumers as the economy stabilizes and customers turn back to sites to which they are more loyal. The report found that Priceline trails other sites when it comes to brand familiarity.
The airline industry, which is in some turmoil with American Airlines pulling its flights from Orbitz and Expedia to avoid fees there, is scoring lower than ever. It had a 66 rating, which ASI says "is one of the lowest scoring industries" in the survey. (Travelmole, February 2011)
In 2010, offline travel distribution will grow faster than online for the first time since the rise of online travel, according to PhoCusWright's "US Online Travel Overview Tenth Edition" report.
Another perhaps surprising finding is that corporate travel led the US travel market's 2009 plummet and is now fuelling its recovery, in a dramatic swing that is temporarily disrupting the overall market's shift to online channels, says the company. PhoCusWright also projects a restrained recovery through 2011, varying by travel segment and distribution channel.
The US online leisure/unmanaged business travel market will grow by 8% in 2010 while the traditional travel agency/travel management company (TMC) channel, powered by the business travel rebound, will post a 15% gain.
Corporate travel's wild ride over the past two years has caused an unusual shift in trend, with online channels growing more slowly than the total US travel market for the first time, according to Douglas Quinby, PhoCusWright senior director of research. The phenomenon reflects the peculiar dynamics of this recession, but the reversal will be short lived. In 2011, the long-term arc of continued shift from offline to online channels will resume.
Following an historic 15% annual decline in 2009, the US travel market in 2010 will regain over half of what it lost, jumping 10% to surpass US$255 billion. Yet the recovery will be uneven and slow, with 2010 travel sales falling short of 2006 levels. The total market will continue to rise annually over the next two years, finally reaching record highs again in 2012, according to the report.
Online leisure and unmanaged business travel fared better than the overall travel market in 2009, falling just 5%, as travellers sought bargains online. Led by online travel agencies, 2010 gains will push online travel ahead of record 2008 levels. Yet online leisure/unmanaged business penetration of the total travel market will be stagnant at 38% in 2010. (Travelmole, November 2010)
According to PhoCusWright's Consumer Travel Report Second Edition, the top reason U.S. travelers give for booking offline is that they were seeking personal service. On the other hand, security concerns and technology issues, once a significant deterrent of online bookings, are no longer a major factor. Just 7% of offline bookers say they do not want to submit credit card information online, and roughly the same percantage do not feel the information they see online is accurate. Only 9% of those who book online cite technical issues or frustration with the Internet as the reason.
While discomfort with technology and the internet is no longer the main driver of offline bookings, a number of other perceptions appear to be preventing some transactions from moving to the online channel. The number two and three reasons for booking offline relate to perceptions-or perhaps, misperceptions-about differences between online and offline booking. Specifically, 21% of travelers who book offline feel they can get a better deal when they call or visit a travel agent or supplier. In addition, 16% believe they would get better customer service (when booking offline) if something goes wrong.
Clearly, an opportunity exists for any travel company that wants to shift transactions from their call center to their website. The challenge is to dispel the notion (which may or may not be accurate) that there are significant differences in pricing and/or customer service between online and offline channels. By communicating a clear and consistent pricing policy, and establishing messaging that instills greater confidence in customer service, travel companies may convince resistant consumers to shift their bookings online. (HOTELMARKETING.COM, June 2010)
While too-high prices were the main driver to booking abandonment, a litany of site-related complaints followed, including not wanting to register, slow loading times, and general frustration or confusion, according to a January 2010 survey of US online travel bookers by PhoCusWright.
Reasons that US online travel bookers do not complete online transactions, January 2010 (% of respondents):
- Final product price and/or fees were higher than I was willing to pay: 43%
- I did not want to register with the Website: 11%
- Not enough inventory (What I wanted to purchase was not available): 11%
- Website was too slow/took too long: 11%
- Website was asking for too much information: 9%
- Website was frustrating/confusing to use: 9%
- Checkout process was too long or confusing: 6%
- I was unwilling/unable to give my credit card information online: 6%
- Website crashed/Webpage froze/received error page: 5%
- Other 3%
- Have never abandoned site from which intended to make purchase: 30%
These problems can also prevent travel bookers from returning in future. More than a third of all travellers told PhoCusWright that site problems would make them less likely to shop again. Business travellers, who are more likely than leisure travellers to book a trip on any given travel site visit, were especially harsh in their condemnation. They were more likely than average to say they would immediately turn to a competing travel site (23%) and tell friends, family and co-workers about their bad experience (14%).
Website performance monitoring firm Gomez found in December 2009 that nearly a fifth of US online buyers had experienced slow load times on travel sites, and 11% had had problems completing transactions. A majority of respondents would give up after just one or two bad experiences on a site.
The "Hospitality & Tourism Industry Report, Q4 2009" from customer satisfaction measurement firm iPerceptions also indicated that after price considerations, convenient, hassle-free Websites with high measures of responsiveness led to the most completed bookings. (eMarketer, May 2010)
Usage of the internet for researching, discussing and booking leisure and unmanaged business travel in the US has shown surprising resilience during the global recession, terrorism scares, flu-pandemic fears and continued economic uncertainty. Though sales declined 6.7% in 2009, US online leisure and unmanaged business travel sales growth will begin to accelerate in 2010, peaking at 7% in 2012, when sales will hit $105.4 billion, according to eMarketer.
eMarkter believes that online will grow to make up an even greater percentage of the total travel market in the post-recessionary environment.
US online leisure/unmanaged business travel sales, 2008-2014:
- 2008: $94.7 billion (+7.1%)
- 2009: $88.4 billion (-6.7%)
- 2010: $92.5 billion (+4.6%)
- 2011: $98.5 billion (+6.5%)
- 2012: $105.4 billion (+7.0%)
- 2013: $112.2 billion (+6.5%)
- 2014: $119.0 billion (+6.0%)
Amid the sales recovery, six key trends will be critical to online travel companies seeking to break away from the increasingly crowded yet fragmented pack:
1. Value takes centre stage: Amid the economic rubble, travellers have adopted a back-to-basics mentality, seeking quality at the right price.
2. Social media gives rise to new ways of sharing: Online reviews and user-generated content are being combined with social networking, increasing their influence on travel-buying decisions.
3. Mobile takes travel on the go: A growing number of travellers now use mobile devices to plan and book trips and access location-specific content.
4. Personalized micro-niche travel takes off: Growing dissatisfaction with one-size-fits-all travel is driving demand for customized offerings.
5. Online travel spans new horizons: Growth in online booking is shifting overseas, while US travellers who book online are looking for more international options.
6. Sustainable is becoming attainable: Suppliers who deploy green practices are enjoying favoured status among acutely aware consumers.
(eMarketer, April 2010)
Hotel internet bookings increased by 6.6% in 2009 compared to 2008 and now account for 54% of all bookings, according to TRAVELCLICK's eTRAK report. This represents $2 billion in hotel revenue, according to PhoCusWright. This is the third year of consecutive growth in the online channel since eTRAK reporting began in 2006.
Driving the proliferation of Web bookings are such new and evolving online channels as mobile applications, social media, and behavioral networks. The mobile channel generated nearly $80 million in revenue in 2008 and 2009, according to PhoCusWright. This number is significantly higher than the revenue from booking air travel (around $60 million) or rental cars (around $20 million) through the mobile channel.
Social networking sites have emerged with similar speed. According to Gartner, networking will be the most popular online activity by 2012, overtaking shopping and surpassing communication and entertainment.
Alongside these emerging technologies, the Global Distribution System (GDS) continues to be important for many buyers and contributes significantly to hotel distribution revenue - about 24% in 2009, according to eTRAK. Also, GDS hotel promotions, appearing when agents search the air, car, and hotel availability screens within their GDS, still have an influence on bookings. Research has found that the more useful, accurate, and visually engaging the information provided by hotels in the GDS environment, the more agents will rely on the system to book travel for their clients. (HOTELMARKETING.COM, March 2010)
US travel industry bookings are expected to total US$291 billion in 2010 while online transactions will reach US$90 billion, according to PhoCusWright. Mobile bookings are to reach US$160 million during the same period, according to PhoCusWright's Mobile: The Next Platform for Travel report.
While mobile booking is still in its infancy, there is vast growth potential for mobile applications that drive bookings and revenue. Travel companies that build effective mobile strategies to target early adopters will be in prime position to lead the coming mobile revolution in travel. These early adopters tend to be young, and, most importantly, frequent travellers. (PhoCusWright FYI - 05/02/2010, February 2010)
The 2009 to 2014 outlook for US online leisure and unmanaged business travel sales is rather mixed, according to a report by Forrester Research entitled "US Online Leisure Travel Forecast, 2009 to 2014: The Plateau Is In Sight".
The era of double-digit growth among US online leisure travel bookers and sales is fading. Between 2009 and 2014, Forrester expects that online sales will remain below those estimated in their 2008 forecast. The number of US leisure travel bookers will grow by just 3.5% during the next five years, while online leisure and unmanaged travel sales will grow 7%, according to Forrester Research. (Forrester Research, January 2010)
Relatively low percentages of US Web users ages 18 and older went online to investigate travel-related subjects in 2009 (in comparison to level in some European countries), according to an Ad-ology Research. Airfares were the most popular travel-related topic, with 34% of respondents saying they had recently checked out flight costs online. But less than 31% of internet users said they had searched for information on rates and availability at hotels and motels.
US internet users who have used the internet to research travel-related topics, 2009 (% of respondents):
- Airfare: 34.0%
- Hotel/motel rates and availability: 30.8%
- Car rental: 14.3%
- Cruises: 10.3%
- Adventure vacation: 10/0%
- Train travel: 6.3%
- Casino vacation: 4.4%
- Guided tour: 3.8%
- Bus tour: 2.8%
- Out-of-town sporting events: 2.8%
- Travel agent/agency: 2.6%
- Golf vacation: 1.7%
- Other 1.2%
- None: 52.9%
(eMarketer, January 2010)