Where Are Travelers Booking Online?
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For better or worse, the future of travel bookings appears to be online, according to a recent report from travel industry research provider Phocuswright.
The study, titled "Channel Surfing: Where Consumers Shop for Travel Online," was sponsored by Expedia and set out to analyze the key differences between online travel agencies (OTAs) and supplier websites.
The report found that by next year more than half (52 percent) of all travel bookings in Europe will be made online. But the U.S. won't be far behind, with 45 percent of travel bookings being made online by 2017.
Meanwhile, Asia Pacific ranks third at 37 percent.
When comparing hotels and airlines, the study uncovered that OTAs are better positioned to secure hotel bookings than flight bookings. In the developed markets Phocuswright analyzed, 61 percent to 75 percent of online consumers seeking a hotel used an OTA, compared to just 15 percent to 44 percent who visited a hotel's website directly.
Nearly one-third of OTA bookers (30 percent) indicated that they prefer OTAs because they believe they give them the best price available. However, simplicity is typically the major difference for consumers, the report shows, with ease of use beating out price as the leading reason consumers look to OTAs.
The study also found that by 2017 one-fourth of online travel transactions in the U.S. will occur through mobile devices, with consumers across all markets increasingly turning to smartphones and tablets to search for and book travel.
While most travel suppliers have developed dedicated apps and mobile websites for consumers, Phocuswright found that OTAs oftentimes have the edge because of their tech-based background and ability to aggregate content.
You can click here to download a copy of the report.
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