TIA Shows Continued Growth in Online Travel Bookers

Travelers’ use of the Internet to plan and book their trips continues to grow, albeit at a slower pace, according to the Travel Industry Association of America‘s (TIA) latest Travelers’ Use of the Internet study. More than 64 million online travelers—-30 percent of the U.S. adult population—-used the Internet last year to get information on destinations or to check prices or schedules. Of that group, 42.2 million actually booked travel online during 2003.The number of Americans using the Internet for travel planning has stabilized at 64.1 million, due to the slower growth of “wired” households in the U.S. Still, the number of travelers booking airline tickets, hotel rooms and other travel services online continues to grow.

In 2003, over 42 million people—-or two-thirds of all online travel planners—-booked travel using the Internet, up 8 percent from 2002. And the number of online bookers doing all of their travel booking online continues to grow, with 29 percent now doing so, versus 23 percent in 2002.

“Greater use of the Internet seems to be changing travel patterns in other ways as well,” remarked Dr. Suzanne Cook, senior vice president of research for the Travel Industry Association of America. “The enhanced accessibility of last minute specials via the Internet, as well as low prices on last minute travel, is stimulating later booking patterns.”

Airline tickets continued to be the most frequently purchased travel products online, reported by 75 percent of all online travel bookers. This was followed closely by accommodations at 71 percent, a dramatic increase from 57 percent in 2002. Rental cars were the third most popular travel service or product booked online (43%). Online travel bookers spend an average of $2,600 online in a year, up from $2,300 in 2002.

The use of e-mail to market travel promotions has become an effective tool for travel suppliers such as hotels and airlines to generate additional business. Over 35 million online travelers have signed up with a travel supplier website or online travel service to receive e-mail offers and promotions. In addition, 10 million have been influenced by an e-mail promotion to actually take a trip they otherwise would not have taken.