October 09, 2012

Online travelers in Europe visit fewer websites


The percentage of online travel shoppers who used only 1-2 websites to shop for travel products increased within the past year – to 41% in France, 30% in Germany and 37% in the U.K.

When it comes to online travel shopping, European consumers are keeping it simple. According to PhoCusWright's European Consumer Travel Report Third Edition, a Global and European Edition report, online travel shoppers in France, Germany and the U.K. trimmed down the number of websites they visited when shopping for travel in 2012.

The percentage of online travel shoppers who used only 1-2 websites to shop for travel products increased within the past year – to 41% in France, 30% in Germany and 37% in the U.K. A smaller share of travelers in each market visited three sites or more compared to the previous year.

So what's inspiring travelers to tone down their shopping around? The short-term driver is likely a decline in lodging incidence. More European travelers opted to stay with friends and family in 2012, and less complex trips require a smaller amount of travel shopping. With relatively few options among airlines and rail providers on any given route, the range of transportation brand choices is far narrower than hotels. But the almighty brand is also playing a larger role as increasingly savvy travelers begin to identify their favorite websites – and eliminate the rest from their shopping routine.

"Prolific searching behavior is fed by two simple drivers – you either have not found what you are looking for or you think you might be able to find something better. A tightened range of travel website visitation is a signal of improved confidence in the websites people use, and that visits to additional websites are not generating better information. If searching six websites does not yield better results than searching three websites, you'll eventually stop using the three that don't add value," said Carroll Rheem, senior director, research. "As the European online travel market matures, travelers are relying on fewer websites, and we're likely to see corresponding consolidation in the marketplace. It is only going to get tougher for small companies to grow their online audience."

Research reveals that European travelers are aware of their habitual behavior. An increasing portion of travelers (up 4% across the markets in 2012) indicate that they have formed travel planning routines.

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