Although there are areas of the travel industry that seem to be hard hit by these tough financial times, on-line travel companies are weathering the storm quite well.
PhoCusWright Inc., in partnership with Compete Inc., conducted a study of travel web sites. The Online Traffic and Conversion Report shows that monthly traffic and conversion activity is up for the second quarter of 2009 when compared to the same quarter in 2008. These results include almost all travel categories.
Travel industry suppliers and online travel agencies showed exceptionally strong growth in an otherwise stagnant economy. Cruise lines were up nineteen percent, and hotel chains were up thirteen percent. The only online travel category that indicated there was a decline was the Over-The-Air air category which was down by fifteen percent. This decline, however, was not in conversions which have increased significantly over the same time period.
“The reliance that consumers have on travel web sites has not weakened one bit,” says Carroll Rheem, Director, research at PhoCusWright. “Online channels are attracting, engaging and inspiring travellers who recognize that this year is actually a fantastic time to take a trip. Consumers are certainly spending less, but they are not giving up travel, nor are they turning away from sites that offer them the selection and convenience that value.
“The online travel ecosystem now supports a diverse variety of transactional and informational sites – each playing a role in how consumers research, shop for and purchase travel,” Rheem adds. “For example, we found that visitation to planning and review sites drive dramatic differences in hotel conversion rates. Understanding the intricate relationship that connect all travel sites is essential to setting the right strategic path.”
Online shoppers will become online purchasers when they find what they want easily. That’s why search capabilities are so imperative to business prosperity.
In 2009 conversion rates were varied; 19 percent for car rental suppliers all the way down to .02 percent for cruises that were booked through OTA. Although suppliers usually show a higher conversion rate than OTA’s, OTA conversion percentages are on an upward climb in 2009.