Leisure travel will boom in 2010

By 2010, Amadeus will have sold its major stake in pan European travel site, Opodo, to a retailer - such as Tesco’s, according to Henry Harteveldt, a senior researcher with Forrester Research.
Although Amadeus recently invested 62 mn euros to acquire its 55% stake in Opodo, which has been expanding in Europe through several acquisitions, Harteveldt claims the GDS will no longer need its online investment.

“Opodo is not a strategic asset to Amadeus. There is trapped financial value in it,” Harteveldt added: “They will say - it is time to cast our child off and let it feed itself”.

This is just one of the revelations made by Harteveldt during his closing key-note presentation at the EyeForTravel Summit in London.

According to Harteveldt: “In 2010, travel distribution will be different, but it won’t be that different.”

“Worldspan will be independent, or carved up by Amadeus and Galileo, or bought by EDS, SITA or China’s TravelSky. Sabre will partially spin off its B2C brands, retaining a controlling interest and China’s C-Trip will buy one or more Western brands.” reveals Harteveldt

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Leisure travel boom driven by ageing baby boomers

Harteveldt predicts that there will be a boom for hotels, all-inclusive resorts and cruise products, as the industry sees an increasing reliance upon leisure travel. “Europe will reach 46.9 bn in online leisure travel by 2009.” He reveals.

This boom will be driven by a rise in “the elder traveller” - as baby boomers start turning 65 and overtake younger travellers in numbers.

Hartefeldt remarks on an increasing trend towards travelling in groups: “Generation Y doesn’t do anything alone - they travel in packs, like in “Friends” but in real life”.

Backing up this claim, the industry is witnessing a move towards group travel with the rise of group booking sites such as Groople and Group Travel Planet. Online travel sites have added group travel tools, such as Travelocity’s “Meet Me In” feature and Orbitz’ new group booking functionality.

Mobile internet overtakes residential broadband

According to Harteveldt, mobile internet users are set to surge: “In Western Europe, mobile internet users will exceed residential broadband users starting in 2007.” He says.

User generated content drives online sales

“Travel sites in 2010 will rely on customisable content to drive sales,” states Harteveldt.

Customisable content, such as social travel search and blogging was a key theme throughout the EyeForTravel Conference, as many speakers highlighted a move towards “web 2.0” - which is loosely defined as the next level of utility to enable customers to do more than view or book online, taking websites to the next level using user generated content.

“Allow rich media to evolve your websites, but do not overwhelm the site,” advises Harteveldt.

“Goal oriented travel” and “Traveller care” will become increasingly important - with the rise of aging travellers. “Traveller alerts will become a point of differentiation”, according to Harteveldt.

By Anna Gouldman

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