Growth Continues for Online Travel Industry

The online travel industry hit $1.2 billion in sales in January, nearly a third of all ecommerce transactions, which were $3.8 billion, according to Nielsen//NetRatings and Harris Interactive.
This marks an increase of 29 percent from six months ago when consumers spent $943 million on online travel in August, setting the highest level since monthly surveys began last April.
From January 2000 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,” says Sean Kaldor, vice president of ecommerce at NetRatings.
Findings from the Nielsen//NetRatings and Harris Interactive eCommercePulse, collected from an online survey of 50,000 Web users, found that Travelocity held the largest share of online travel buyers at 18% (see table). Southwest followed with 14% of all online travel purchasers. Expedia`s share was 11%. Priceline (9%) and Delta (8%) rounded out the top 5 rankings.
Offline Dollars Generated By Online Shoppers: 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.
“Online travel is one of the more efficient vertical industries online, routinely completing 64 percent of transactions on the Web while many other product categories see only 30 to 40 percent of revenues actually transacted through the cost-efficient online interface,” says 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,” continues Kaldor.