The online Travel industry is booming in the UK, despite reservations over the impact of increased competition and intensifying fare wars on the airline sector in recent weeks. This month’s Hitwise
data has revealed that visits to websites in the Travel industry have increased by over a quarter in the past 12 months, reflecting the continued strength of travel online.
The beginning of 2004 saw the highest recorded market share of visits for the Travel industry. In January 2004, one in 25 visits was to a Travel website - a new high - and whilst visits fell slightly between February and April, the industry still represented 3.7% of all visits in April.
Simon Chamberlain, General Manager of Hitwise UK commented: “Given the trend we saw in 2003, we can expect four months of strong activity for the online Travel industry. Last year we saw an uplift of around 33% between April and August, and a similar increase this year would see almost 5% of all UK Internet visits going to Travel related websites.”
The good news for the online Travel industry is the continuing shift of business from the high street on to the Internet. Expedia.co.uk, the online travel agency owned by the major US company InterActive Corp, is continuing to invest heavily this year, recently launching a £12m brand advertising campaign. Since the beginning of the year, Expedia has been the most popular Travel Agency site in terms of visits by UK Internet users, currently accounting for more than 1 in every 10 visits to the Travel - Agencies category and continuing to maintain its lead over Lastminute.
However, Hitwise custom data reveals that the no-frills sector is facing ever increasing competition from traditional carriers online. Whilst visits to this sector have increased over the past year - growing by 12.5% - the overall Commercial Airline sector has seen a stronger increase of 19.4%. This is reflected in British Airways profits announced this week which shows that more than 50% of its short-haul leisure flights are booked online, saving the company further costs.