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BizReport : Ecommerce archives : August 27, 2008

Online leisure travel market grows, bookings drop

While eMarketer forecasts the U.S. online leisure travel market is set to grow over the next four years, the research firm also notes that the number of travelers booking online is dropping. Is this a result of the current economic climate or are online travel agents’ sites to blame?

by Helen Leggatt

Traditional travel agents are being favored over online travel agencies, according to a new report from eMarketer. The decline in online bookings isn’t related to “economic concerns”, writes report author Jeff Grau, but the result of consumer frustration with online travel planning and booking systems.

“This, in turn, is spurring a renewed appreciation for the expertise and personalized services offered by traditional travel agents,” said Grau.

Travel marketers must ensure they include the coveted personalization and expertise that lures consumers to traditional travel agents. User-generated content is another consideration that online travel agencies, with their old technology, overlook but which traditional travel agencies are starting to embrace.

This year U.S. travel sales booked online will reach $105 billion, up 12% from 2007, and eMarketer forecasts growth at an average rate of 11% through 2012.

Tags: online booking, online sales, online travel

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