E-travellers prefer to research, not reserve

11 Jul 2007

The numbers of consumers using the internet to make travel arrangements is on the decline, a survey has found.

The Conference Board and TNS report found that the proportion of consumers planning to use the internet in the next three months to research travel continues to outnumber those intending to book online by nearly two to one.

Overall activity, however, has declined in the past three years. Women are more likely than men to research travel activities online but both are equally likely to book travel arrangements online.

“Consumers conducting travel research online continue to outnumber those booking online,” said Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Centre.

“Among consumers whose online travel arrangements increased this year, ease of use and instant availability are the key drivers.”

Among those using the Internet to make travel arrangements, the ability to book airfares online garnered the highest level of satisfaction, with 48pc of customers claiming they are “extremely” satisfied.

The ability to make car rental arrangements online also received high marks with nearly 42pc of customers saying that they are extremely satisfied.

More women than men, 21pc versus nearly 19pc, used travel websites solely to research their travel arrangements.

However, more men than women, 34pc versus 33pc, researched and also booked their travel arrangements via a travel website. In terms of satisfaction with travel websites, only 30pc of consumers expressed a high level of satisfaction with these sites, although an additional 55pc say they are somewhat satisfied.

Two out of every ten consumers say they have used the internet more this year than last to research travel arrangements, while 18pc have increased their online bookings.

Ease of use was the primary reason behind the boost in online usage, followed by instant availability. Past experience and promotions are also among the top reasons consumers cited for their increased usage.

Nearly one out of every four consumers say they used the internet less than last year for making travel arrangements.

“Clearly, there appears to be room for continued growth in the online travel arena,” said Franco.

By John Kennedy