A Look At The Online Travel Market

    February 12, 2007

When it comes to making travel arrangements 37 percent of consumers choose to go online and use a suppliers Web site directly while 20 percent of consumers use online travel agency Web sites. Still 43 percent of consumers say “It depends” which option they will choose according to a survey by market research firm eVOC Insights and RelevantView.

Jeffrey Grau, eMarketer senior analyst and travel specialist says that the “It depends” group has good reason for using both online travel agencies and suppliers.

"For many people, it’s not a black-and-white choice. Each channel has a different set of attributes. The agencies give you a broad selection, and make it easy to book multiple travel segments at the same time, such as hotels, airlines and car rentals. For details about a lodging facility, however, the supplier wins out. More importantly, supplier loyalty program points are easier to get directly from the supplier," said Mr. Grau.

The eVOC survey supports that statement. Consumers prefer online travel agencies when it comes to hotel price and selection, for adding flights, rooms or vehicles. Suppliers are favored because of rewards programs and ease of cancellation.

Along with reward programs, suppliers can compete with online travel agencies on price, according to a new study by eVOC Insights and Hospitality eBusiness Strategies. Seventy-one percent of visitors to a major hotel brand site said that having a best Internet rate guarantee would persuade them to book directly on the brand site instead of sites like Expedia or Travelocity.

While guaranteed price was the leading factor in enticing consumers to book directly with a hotels site, 70 percent of consumers also said that special prices and promotions are another motivation when it comes to booking directly with a hotels Web site.

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