Travel sites see ‘highest level’ comparison shopping

Travel sites see ‘highest level’ comparison shopping

Online travel agencies receive the highest level of comparison shopping among all e-commerce sectors, new research shows.

Travel agencies came out top among 16 leading e-commerce sectors including insurance, retail and automotive by attracting the most comparison shopping with more than a quarter of visits coming from another agency sites.

This is 85% higher than average for leading e-commerce sectors, according to online competitive intelligence service Hitwise UK which conducted the research.

The findings of the organisation’s quarterly research note also reveal that travel Websites attract visitors who are most likely to plan three or more holidays a year and have household incomes of more than £50,000 a year.

Hitwise details specific groups who are more likely to book travel online and says the industry must target these to diversify the audience it attracts online.

But it warns against complacency in successful search marketing despite travel websites receiving more than average visits from search engines than other sites on the Internet.

“Managers of travel Websites need to keep abreast of the search terms sending visits to their site and those of their competitors,” the report says. “As more people visit your site, the variety of search terms used to reach your site will also increase.”

The report also highlights the growth of Thomson Holidays’ Website – - which in April almost doubled its share of visits year-on-year.

The TUI UK-owned sister site gained 121% market share and Thomson Flights gained 80% market share in the same period while Jet2 gained 99%.

This demonstrates the narrowing gap in the past year between established low cost airlines selling online and new challengers, according to Hitwise.

“After an initial explosion in demand for low cost flights, a few pioneers took a dominant position in market share of visits online. It is no surprise that as the market matures the gap to the leaders is narrowing as smaller players catch up,” the report says.

The ranking of airline Websites based on market share of visits in April was:

1) EasyJet – 19.73%

2) Ryanair – 14.65%

3) British Airways – 10.20%

4) Bmibaby – 8.25%

5) Flybe – 5.61%

6) Thomson Flights – 3.89%

7) Jet2 – 3.88%

8) Thomsonfly – 3.81%

9) BMI – 3.32%

10) Monarch Airlines – 3.12%

The top five have not changed their position in the past 12 months although the narrowing of the lead by the dominant players “sets the stage for change in the next few months,” according to Hitwise.

As reported by TravelMole, Hitwise predicts continued fierce competition in the online travel arena, saying that the proposed acquisition of by Sabre “is only one indication of increasing competition in the travel sector”.

Overall, Hitwise predicts another busy summer for travel Websites due to the continued growth in the sector and as travel companies continue to grow their online advertising spend.

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