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Travel Sites Don't Inspire Return Trips

  |  August 24, 2004   |  Comments

A new JupiterResearch report reveals limited loyalty among onlinetravel consumers.

The newly released "Consumer Survey Report, Travel 2004" from JupiterResearch (a Jupitermedia Corp. division) revealed that travelers don't display allegiance to any particular vendor, shopping 2.5 online vendors on average. Online travel services that are likely to secure return trips from consumers are those that offer "best-rate guarantees," the report found.

"Generally there is limited loyalty because consumers are price sensitive, retailers offer competitive prices, and consumers are willing to shop around to find the best deal. There is also a strong element of 'commodity' too. For example, an airline seat between one and another airline are relatively similar," said Diane Clarkson, travel industry analyst for JupiterResearch.

The best-rate guarantee is established by the retailers as indicators that they are offering the lowest prices. For example, "You'll see this on Hilton.com where they are directing consumers to their Web site and offering better rates on their own Web site than through Expedia, Travelocity, Orbitz, etc.," explained Clarkson.

While a collaborative report from Vividence and PhoCusWright Inc. revealed that 28 percent of surveyed consumer already bought travel packages online, the Jupiter study found that U.S. consumers were not as receptive to bundled products as their European counterparts.

"'Bundled' would refer to any combination of two or more travel products, generally air, hotel and car rental. Consumers generally like the idea of buying everything on Web site, but they aren't necessarily buying because they want to look around to make sure they have the best deal," said Clarkson.

Similarly, Feedback Research, a division of the Claria Corporation, revealed that travelers are more enticed by favorable prices than bundled packages. Of the surveyed respondents who repeatedly purchase from one or two favorite travel aggregator sites, 82 percent reported doing so because of "good price," compared to 30 percent who said it was because of "good packages."

Additionally, roughly three-quarters of respondents who repeatedly purchased from one or two favorite airline sites did so because of "good price," while just 17 percent were swayed by "good packages."

Feedback Research's findings come from online traffic analysis of more than 43 million users, as well as surveys of travel site visitors. Results indicated that 82 percent prefer to make travel arrangements online, and 67 percent made their purchases at either a travel aggregator site such as Expedia, Orbitz or Travelocity or a specific airline site.

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