Online Travel Spending Surpasses $1 Billion in January

The online travel industry hit $1.2 billion in sales in January 2001, accounting for nearly one-third of of $3.8 billion in e-commerce transactions, according to research by Nielsen//NetRatings and Harris Interactive. This marks a dollar increase of 29 percent from six months ago when consumers spent $943 million on online travel in August 2000, setting the highest level since monthly surveys began last April.

From January 2000 to January 2001, Nielsen//NetRatings found that online shopping trips to the top five travel sites from work and home jumped 42 percent to 22 million visits.

“Online travel spending grew 17 percent to more than $1.2 billion in January, while all other forms of consumer e-commerce declined from their hectic holiday levels in December,” said Sean Kaldor, vice president of e-commerce at NetRatings.

The Nielsen//NetRatings and Harris Interactive eCommercePulse, which collects data an online survey of 50,000 Web users, found that Travelocity held the largest share of online travel buyers (18 percent). Southwest Airlines followed with 14 percent of all online travel purchasers. Expedia’s share was 11 percent. Priceline (9 percent) and Delta (8 percent) rounded out the top five rankings.

In addition to their online success, Internet travel sites stimulated another $681 million in offline revenue in January. These sales were generated by online operations, but purchased through the phone, fax or in-person.

“Online travel is one of the more efficient vertical industries online, routinely completing 64 percent of transactions on the Web while many other product categories see only 30 to 40 percent of revenues actually transacted through the cost-efficient online interface,” said Kaldor. “Online travel sites should not be evaluated purely by their Web dollar sales figure alone. Many people use the Internet to price comparison shop, and prefer purchasing their tickets by speaking directly with a travel agent.”

Most Popular Online Travel Providers
Rank Company Unique

1. Travelocity 8,720 18%
2. Southwest 4,109 14%
3. Expedia 4,801 11%
4. Priceline 3,409 9%
5. Delta 3,019 8%
Source: Nielsen//NetRatings and Harris Interactive

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