Economic downturn proving to be a mixed blessing for online travel companies
Published: 29 Oct 2008: The economic downturn is proving to be a mixed blessing for online travel companies, with budget travel and cruise lines benefiting from the current environment.
According to Hitwise, UK online traffic to budget travel companies increased by 5.3 percent in September compared with the previous year. The websites of cruise companies experienced an 8.2 percent increase in traffic over the same period.
Overall, Internet traffic to travel websites fell by 4.6 percent between September 2007 and September 2008.
The top 10 budget travel companies in the UK accounted for 7.1 percent of traffic to travel websites in September this year, up from 6.4 percent the previous year. easyJet had the most popular budget travel website in the UK, accounting for 1.7 percent of UK Internet visits to travel websites, while Travelodge´s was the fastest growing. The hotel chain, which recently announced plans to open 22 new hotels before Christmas, experienced a 34 percent increase in UK Internet visits between September 2007 and 2008.
"Each of the top three budget travel websites in the UK - easyJet, Ryanair and Travelodge - has experienced at least a 20 percent increase in UK Internet traffic over the last 12 months," said Robin Goad, Director of Research for Hitwise UK. "This online growth is also reflected offline; in addition to Travelodge´s expansion, both easyJet and Ryanair announced significant increases in passenger numbers in their latest results. However, the big challenge for travel providers is to monetise these traffic increases in the face of falling prices and rising costs."
Almost 60 percent of visitors to cruise websites are aged 55+, with a further 16 percent coming from the 45-54 age-group.
"Demographics are playing a role in the growth of the cruise sector online, but the economic downturn is also having an impact. Our search data reveals that people are looking for all inclusive deals as a way of saving money, and cruises provide UK travellers with one way of achieving this," said Goad.