Online travel sales climb in US

comScore Networks is releasing an analysis of the online travel market in the U.S. which found
that nearly 150 million consumers visited a travel Web site in 2005, a
35-percent increase over the previous year. Annual online travel revenues
exceeded $60 billion in 2005, representing a 20-percent increase versus
2004, with all travel segments posting gains.
  “The Web is extraordinarily well-suited to helping consumers make
travel plans and increases in home broadband penetration should continue to
fuel growth in the online travel sector,” said Sara Stevens, director of
comScore Travel Solutions.

  As the online travel industry has grown and matured, consumers have
been slowly migrating from online agencies to branded airline, hotel or car
rental supplier sites. However, both online agency and supplier sites are
growing, with agencies posting a 19-percent gain versus 2004 and suppliers
recording 21 percent growth. comScore data also show that the branded
supplier sites captured approximately 57 percent of online travel dollars
in 2005, up from 55 percent in 2004.
  Over the last three years, online agencies have experienced greater
competition from supplier sites in the airline and hotel segments and, to a
lesser extent, in car rentals. Supplier sites, which accounted for 53
percent of airline ticket sales in 2003, have grown in popularity in recent
years to capture 58 percent of airline ticket sales in 2005. A similar
pattern has emerged in the hotel segment, where supplier sites have grown
from a 52 percent share in 2003 to 59 percent in 2005, with the growth from
2004 to 2005 being particularly strong.
    Conducted as part of the Travel Industry Overview, a comScore survey
revealed that, on average, travel shoppers visit approximately three sites
when planning leisure travel. The dominant reason for doing so, not
surprisingly, is to search for the lowest price. Few respondents cited
rewards programs or flexible dates and times as reasons for “shopping
When people begin the process of researching travel services online, 46
percent indicated that the first site they visited was either Expedia,
Travelocity or Orbitz—nearly double the proportion of people who
reported starting their research at a branded airline, hotel or car rental
site (24 percent). The top reason stated for beginning at Expedia, Orbitz
or Travelocity was efficiency in seeking the lowest price (22 percent),
with an additional 17 percent indicating they expect these sites to deliver
“the best deal.”
  Since the Internet is “always open,” it is perfectly positioned to help
people shop in a very time-efficient manner. In fact, among people
surveyed, 72 percent indicated that they begin their planning for leisure
travel within eight weeks before taking the trip, with only 28 percent
saying that they start researching and planning more than two months ahead
of time.