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Online Is Destination For Air Travel Purchases

  |  June 21, 2005   |  Comments

Comparison travel shopping sites and airline sites share a comparable number of unique visitors, but the airlines have a higher conversion rate.

Online travel sites such as Expedia, Travelocity and Orbitz and airline's own sites compete at an even level, but the latter get nearly double the conversions. A report from Nielsen//NetRatings, commencing its MegaView Travel Service, reports on how airline Web sites compare to travel shopping sites and meta-search providers.

Online ticket sales accounted for nearly half of all ticket sales of the last six months. The majority of shoppers (54 percent) initiate trip queries at more general travel sites. The balance of inquiries fall on suppliers (such as airline sites) and meta-search; 37 percent of shoppers initially visit travel supplier Web sites, while nine percent start with travel meta-search providers. Travel suppliers make up ground with a stronger conversion rate.

"The wide selection of travel suppliers drive the majority of travel shoppers to begin their research with agencies and meta-search providers before directly visiting a supplier," said Heather Dougherty, senior Internet analyst, Nielsen//Netratings.

Airlines score the higher percent of buyers. Southwest Airlines realized a conversion rate of 14 percent, Delta Airlines transacted 10 percent of their traffic, and American Airlines sold tickets to nine percent of their visitors.

Top Airline Web Sites by Visitors, April 2005 (U.S., Home and Work)
Airline Unique Audience
Visitor Conversion
Rate (%)
Southwest Airlines 8,141 14
American Airlines 5,663 9
Delta Air Lines 4,912 10
Source: Nielsen//NetRatings NetView and MegaView Travel, June 2005

Travel sites such as Orbitz and Expedia attract more visitors, but see lower conversion rates. Expedia received twice as many unique visitors as Southwest airlines, but its conversion rate was only five percent. Orbitz transacted with four percent of its visitors, and Travelocity only three percent.

Top Online Travel Agencies by Visitors, April 2005 (U.S., Home and Work)
Travel Agency Unique Audience
Visitor Conversion
Rate (%)
Expedia 16,260 5
Travelocity.com 11,714 3
Orbitz 11,616 4
Source: Nielsen//NetRatings NetView and MegaView Travel, June 2005

Summer months are hot for the travel sector, hotels experience lift in summer months, the same is expected with air travel.


Enid Burns

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