Led by Travelocity, online travel sold $1.2 billion in January

Online travel sites captured one-third of all e-commerce in January with $1.2 billion in monthly sales, according to a study by Nielsen//NetRatings and Harris Interactive.
Online travel sites stimulated another $681 million in offline revenue in January. These sales were generated by online operations, but purchased through the phone, fax or in-person.
The Internet market research companies collected the data from an online survey of 50,000 Web users. Travelocity held the largest share of online travel buyers or 18%. Southwest Airlines followed with 14% of all online travel purchasers. Expedia`s share was 11%, while Priceline had 9% Delta Airlines had 8%.
The total for January for all e-commerce was $3.8 billion. This marks a dollar increase of 29% from six months ago when consumers spent $943 million on online travel in August 2000, setting the highest level since monthly surveys began last April.
From last January to January 2001, Nielsen//NetRatings found that online shopping trips to the top five travel sites from work and home jumped 42% to 22 million visits.
“Online travel spending grew 17% to more than $1.2 billion in January, while all other forms of consumer eCommerce declined from their hectic holiday levels in December,” said Sean Kaldor, vice president of eCommerce at NetRatings.
“Online travel is one of the more efficient vertical industries online, routinely completing 64% of transactions on the Web while many other product categories see only 30 to 40% of revenues actually transacted through the cost-efficient online interface,” said Kaldor.
“Online travel sites should not be evaluated purely by their Web dollar sales figure alone. Many people use the Internet to price comparison shop, and prefer purchasing their tickets by speaking directly with a travel agent,” Kaldor said.
The eCommercePulse service, produced by Nielsen//NetRatings and Harris Interactive, integrates eCommerce survey data collected from Harris Interactive`s online panel of more than seven million users with data and insights from Nielsen//NetRatings` Internet audience information.
Covering more than 300 e-commerce sites across 14 key vertical markets, eCommercePulse provides integrated monthly reports on eCommerce behavior, trends and spending (both online spending and offline spending that result from online shopping). Critical information on purchaser and revenue share, and customer satisfaction metrics, including market-level and site-level traffic, enables companies to make informed, strategic business decisions.
Nielsen//NetRatings, the audience measurement service from Nielsen Media Research and NetRatings, Inc., collects real-time data from more than 70,000 panel members in the United States. The U.S. panel sample consists of 62,000 at-home users and 8,000 at-work users.
These panels collectively represent the largest representative media research sample of Internet users in the industry. Worldwide, Nielsen//NetRatings services are provided via a partnership with ACNielsen eRatings.com, a venture between ACNielsen and NetRatings, Inc., and measure the Internet experiences of more than 220,000 Internet users.