The major new Internet European Travel Monitor study was produced jointly by Munich-based IPK International and Luc Carton, founder of eMarket Strategies and editor of Paris-based eTourism Strategies. Its findings are the result of the first large-scale survey of online travel in Europe, where 400,000 interviews were conducted in 33 European countries. The research shows that of 27.3 million international and domestic trips initiated on the Internet by Europeans in 1999, 5.7 million were booked and paid for online. In the 25-34 age group, 30.2% choose to actually buy online, compared to 22% offline. This represents a 37% difference in favour of Internet bookings. However, in the 45-54 age group, that trend is reversed, with 88% preferring to buy offline. The more affluent northern European countries were found to be much more likely to use the Internet for travel purchasing. The top country was Germany, with 5.1 million international trips. The United Kingdom was next with 3.9 million, followed by Sweden with 1.2 million and France with 983,000.
In the USA, it is the business sector that is most likely to book and pay for trips online, whereas in Europe there is a marked reluctance by the business community to pay online. However, European customers of the leisure industry have shown no such qualms and have clearly taken Internet travel booking to their hearts, with holidays accounting for a massive 84.4% of all internet bookings. Winter sports—skiing in particular—are three times more highly represented in the survey than other types of holiday.
The steep increase in all figures for European online travel bookings during 1999 is a good sign for travel web sites. It is clear indication that the wary European travel consumer now holds a firm and growing belief in the Internet’s ability to deliver the goods.