According to the latest analysis from Internet research firm Jupiter MMXI, the European online travel market has grown considerably over the last year.
Jupiter MMXI estimates this market will be worth over EUR 20 billion by 2006. Analysis of measurement data shows that in the last year, from January 2001 to January 2002, audiences visiting travel sites increased from 11% in France to up to 75% in Spain.
Several sites have more than doubled their audience in the last year. These include Expedia.co.uk, Go-fly.com and OTC-UK.com in the UK, Lastminute.com in Germany, Renfe.es, Iberia.es and Viajar.com in Spain, and Myswitzerland.com in Switzerland.
The most successful new site launch was Opodo.com in Germany. It took the site only two months to get to second position in the top 10 travel sites. Other newcomers to the top 10 include Ryanair.com and E-sixt.de in Germany, Skiinfo.fr in France, Mytravel.se in Sweden, Lastminute.com and Easyjet.com in Spain, and Stnet.ch and Crossair.com in Switzerland.
The UK is the biggest online travel market in Europe, with almost six million Unique Visitors in January 2002. Germany and France follow with 5.1 and 2.5 million Unique Visitors in the first month of 2002. Italy and Sweden both had 1.2 million Unique Visitors to travel sites and Spain 645,000. Europeans spent on average 26 minutes on travel sites in January 2002. Britons spent the most amount of time, at 37.4 average minutes per Unique Visitor per month, whilst the Swiss spent the least amount of time at 17.9 average minutes in January 2002.
Europeans are getting used to booking their train and airline tickets online. Planning the family holiday, however, is among the most complex and longest processes within the Internet commerce category. It requires consumers to make several decisions, such as choosing a destination, means of transport, type of holiday, and price, according to budget. Making these decisions involves an intensive search process, which most major travel companies can provide online, enabling visitors to save time and have a wide range of choices.
However, booking holidays on the high street is currently more immediate than the response from online travel companies. Most travel sites currently fail to help visitors sufficiently in their decision-making process and miss an opportunity to turn browsers into online shoppers. Once visitors need advice and interaction Jupiter MMXI has found that they return to the off-line world, with an increased level of customer service for potential buyers.
In particular, travel sites striving for full service should offer the following: Personal folders to store research results, accessible to authorised third parties involved in the decision-making process (e.g., friends, family).
The option to schedule appointments (online or off-line) with travel agents for advice.
Call back buttons to hold reservations for selected trips for a limited time, until consumers finalise decisions.
Top 10 Travel Sites in the UK:
1 LASTMINUTE.COM 8,495,000 unique visitors.
2 EXPEDIA.CO.UK 8,445,000
3 EASYJET.COM 8,355,000
4 GO-FLY.COM 6,243,000
5 BRITISHAIRWAYS.COM 5,663,000
6 RYANAIR.COM 5,563,000
7 EBOOKERS.COM 4,752,000
8 THETRAINLINE.COM 4,202,000
9 OTC-UK.COM 3,892,000
10 BOOKRYANAIR.COM 3,472,000
Top 10 Travel Sites in the Europe
1 BAHN.DE 21,203,000 unique visitors
2 LASTMINUTE.COM 17,182,000
3 EASYJET.COM 9,991,000
4 TRENITALIA.COM 9,961,000
5 RYANAIR.COM 9,261,000
6 EXPEDIA.CO.UK 9,221,000
7 VOYAGES-SNCF.COM 8,181,000
8 GO-FLY.COM 6,691,000
9 BRITISHAIRWAYS.COM 6,401,000
10 EXPEDIA.COM 6,361,000
All data from Jupiter MMXI, the Internet research company. Jupiter MMXI is the industry standard for measuring the online behaviour of over 90% of the European, and global, Internet audience. Jupiter MMXI surveys more than 100,000 Europeans on their Internet behaviour and attitudes annually. Their panels continuously measure the online usage patterns of over 50,000 Internet users in Europe from their panels in the UK, France, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, and Norway.