Security Stunts Online Travel Growth

More Internet users are booking travel arrangements online, but getting those who look to book is still the number one challenge for Internet travel services, according to results from The 1998 PhoCusWright Travel eCommerce Survey.

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Among “wired travelers” (defined by PhoCus Wright as adult Americans who have traveled by air in the past year and visited a Web site in the past month), 80 percent have “looked” at Internet travel sites and 58 percent have checked prices. Approximately one-fifth (18 percent) of wired travelers have used the Internet to book travel online.

The survey also found that wired travelers are more likely to use the Internet than travel magazines or guidebooks to research and plan their trips. While only 10 percent of these travelers that take leisure vacations “customarily” buy their air tickets for personal travel online, 68 percent look online to research and plan their personal travel. Fifty-seven percent of wired travelers have looked at, but not booked, ticket information over the Internet. Of those, 70 percent have bought the tickets later from another source, such as a travel agent or airline.

Most non-buyers express reluctance to jump into e-commerce anytime soon. Seventy-five percent say they are not likely to buy anything online in the near future. They worry about credit card security (82 percent), personal privacy (79 percent), or would rather speak with a knowledgeable salesperson (7 percent). Travel agents are a big reason why travelers resist online services, among the vast majority (82 percent) of wired travelers who have not bought travel online, nearly half (48 percent) say it is because they have a travel agent they know and trust.

Despite the reluctance of many “wired travelers” to make purchases, travel and travel-related services remain among the top three segments for Web purchases

“This study shows that consumers desire the best price, but are fearful about security and privacy. The more experienced consumers are with the Internet, including e-commerce, the more likely they are to purchase travel services online,” said Philip C. Wolf, President and CEO of PhoCusWright, Inc.

PhoCusWright, Inc., is an independent strategy and research company for the online Internet travel marketplace. An independent research firm, International Communications Research (ICR), conducted a random telephone survey of 500 “wired travelers” for the survey.

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