The Internet has proven itself as a major distribution channel for the travel industry, in that it widens the distribution of both travel-related content, pricing information, and travel planning tools for consumers. While it has aided in empowering consumers to research, plan and book their own travel, it has also created transparency, resulting in a much more price-sensitive shopper.
Nonetheless, the travel industry is in a mode of recovery and the Internet is and will continue to be a critical channel for the industry, destinations, and consumers.
It is anticipated that in 2005 one third of all travel will be sold online.
The U.S. economy is expected to enjoy healthy growth through 2005, and travel spending is increasing at an even greater rate than the overall economy.
This growth can be attributed to growing Internet penetration, increased confidence among users, and improved technology, products and content from online travel companies.
The Internet provides travelers with an ever increasing number of options, both in terms of the number of sites available and the information, services and products offered.
This expansion of options has led to an intensification of competition among travel providers and suppliers, with many companies battling for the online customer.
Internet use as a means to research and book travel will continue to trend-up as technology and users become more sophisticated. Competition will increase and companies that are able in invest in travel research and booking feature improvements, targeted promotions and robust CRM programs will reap the greatest benefits.
Mintel defines the market for Internet travel booking to include airline, hotel, and car rental bookings made via the Internet for unmanaged business, personal and/or vacation purposes.
The report focuses on leisure travel, not corporate travel, although some business travel that is not is undoubtedly incorporated into the Internet data.
A distributor may be either a direct travel company, an online travel agency or online consolidator.
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