Almost the moment the World Cup ended, the online travel sector saw a surge in activity. Everyone felt they could at last take a break without missing something vital. Visits to travel websites are up 8% on this time last year and up 15% in the past month, according to Hitwise. The sector generally peaks online in mid-August so the up-swing should continue.
The internet giants are leading the charge with visits over the past month to the likes of Lastminute.com, Expedia and LateRooms all up by between 20% and 33%.
The searches driving people to these sites are often destination specific, such as “flights to Australia”, with the most searched-for destinations including Turkey, Cyprus and Florida.
However, brands are finding it harder to break through. Only easyJet has managed to turn its name into a top ten search, according to Yahoo!, although Cheapflights is probably benefiting from the generic nature of its name.
The internet has certainly changed the economics of travel by allowing no-frills operators such as easyJet to force down prices. This has had the knock-on effect of changing people’s behaviour, encouraging them to take more breaks. According to GB TGI, a fifth of the population booked their most recent holiday online, while close to a quarter have used the Web to book a flight or a holiday in the past year.
The statistics are even more pronounced when it comes to people making their own travel and accommodation arrangements. According to GB TGI, 80% of these independent travellers use the internet and 44% of them bought their last holiday online. The places they favour for a holiday often go on to become mainstream destinations, and that’s likely to also prove true of the internet sites they visit.