More Travelers Booking Online

Nearly one-third of Internet users who visit travel-related Web sites have made online reservations at those sites, according to a study by NPD Online Research.

According to NPD, more visitors to airline, hotel, and car rental sites are booking online than ever before. In 1999, 31 percent of individuals who visited online airline sites booked their reservations on the Web, compared to only 21 percent in 1998. The percentage of visitors that booked at hotel sites rose from 21 to 28 percent from 1998 to 1999, according to NPD, and the percentage of visitors to car rental sites that booked rose from 19 to 28 percent in the same time span.

NPD also found that, along with an increase in visitors who are booking travel online, the satisfaction that online buyers have with the experience was reported as very high. According to NPD, Internet travel bookers were more satisfied with their online experience than those Internet users who use the Web only to check travel prices and travel availability. Eighty-nine percent of those who actually reserved airline reservations reported being “extremely” or “somewhat” satisfied with their transaction. Satisfaction with hotel and car rental site purchases was slightly lower at 84 percent and 82 percent.

Percentage of Travel Site
Visitors Who Book Online
Site 1998 1999
Airlines 21% 31%
Hotels 21% 28%
Rental cars 19% 28%
Source: NPD Research

“Our data supports expectations for continued growth in travel bookings online,” said Allan Baldinger, VP of NPD Online Research. “We have found that the more time a consumer spends online, the more likely they are to purchase online. In fact, credit card concerns that prevent most online purchases from being made drop dramatically among experienced Internet users. For those Internet travelers who browse Web sites, it is just a matter of time before they change from lookers to bookers.”

Among Internet users who buy travel online, a core group of heavy bookers is beginning to emerge. According to NPD, 7 percent of Internet travel buyers can be classified as heavy bookers, those who have made at least one online airline, hotel, or rental car reservation. Heavy bookers are also more likely to travel for business than pleasure, and are more likely to have two or more years of online experience.

According to NPD, heavy bookers frequented travel sites such as,,, and

A majority of Internet travelers still divert the confirmation of their travel reservations to traditional travel agents, according to NPD. Fifty-six percent of online travelers reported having completed travel reservations with a traditional travel agent after visiting a travel-related Web sites

Pricing and credit card security concerns continue to stop newer Internet users from booking travel online, NPD found. The need for human contact and assurances that reservations are correct prevent more experienced Internet users from booking travel online, according to NPD.

The survey was based on a sample of 5,300 individuals prerecruited to participate in surveys.

Why Internet Users Book Travel Offline
Newbiesa Intermediatesb Net Vetsc
Lowest price 31% 28% 28% 33%
Credit card
18% 33% 25% 13%
Human contact 16% 8% 16% 16%
14% 9% 13% 14%
Other 21% 22% 18% 24%
a less than 6 months online
b 6 months to 2 years online
c more than 2 years online
Source: NPD Online Research

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