etravel   e-tourism newsletter
Issue 2001-4 - Wednesday, March 7, 2001

emarket news
e-market strategies
enewsletter sign up free


  American eTravel consumers are now mature enough to modify the structure of tourist industry  

The Travel Industry Association of America (TIA) just released its last study about the way travellers use the Internet in the United-States.

This survey was based on a sample of 2,000 Americans and its results appear particularly interesting as it confirms and even reinforces the tendencies that were already emerging in the eTourism sector.

First of all, please note that the eTourism sector arrives first, way before the E-Travel sector, as the latter only deals with leisure travels.

Secondly, it appears that last minute bookings are way too present on the Internet.

Finally, and this comes as no surprise, E-Travel consumers can be found among the most practised Internet users.

According to TIA, over 13 billion dollars were spent online in 2000 for airline tickets, hotel reservations and car rentals in the United-States.

What this means is that travel made up 30% of all online spending in the United-States in 2000, thus confirming its leading position on the Internet.

As I mentioned above, online bookings mainly come from the most experienced users:

  • 55 percent of eTravel consumers have been using the Internet for more than two years.

  • 60 percent are online at least 11 hours per week.

  • 33 percent use the Internet 21 hours or more every week.

The average spending by frequent online bookers reached $3.200 last year, when consumers who book less frequently spent around $1,400.

We also notice that overnight trips planned online tend to be longer than the average U.S. overnight trip that is booked offline: trips planned online average 5 nights compared to 4 nights for the average offline U.S. trip.

As for the products bought by E-Travel consumers, Airline tickets do remain top of the list, but only just:



  • 84 percent of online travellers bought an airline ticket online in 2000.

  • 78 percent made a hotel reservation.

  • 59 percent rented a car on the Internet.

  • 33 percent booked entertainment tickets: museum, festival, sports event.

  • 18 percent booked tickets for amusement park.

  • 17 percent booked a travel package.

  • 8 percent booked a cruise.

Even though you might notice a great disparity between all those figures, please note that both the hotel trade and the car rental industry got very good results.

This happens to be a new phenomenon, and it proves that nearly everything can presently be found on the Internet. It also shows that Internet users now regard the Internet as a global service that allows them to plan and book their leisure travels.

Only last year, Internet users were still somehow worried about "building" a trip as it was more complex than booking an air ticket. Many sites worked hard to bring a friendly touch to their content and this is now bearing fruit.

  • 59 percent of Internet users use eServices to get driving directions and maps.

  • 54% search the Web for a place to stay.

  • 46% search the Web for things to do.

  • 45% search the Web for airline schedules. This type of search is loosing ground as it only arrives in fourth position in Internet usage.

  • 36% search the Web for dining and entertainment.

  • 34% search the Web for local event calendars.

  • 26% search the web for rental car prices and availability.

  • 22% search the Web for places to go.

  • And finally, 13% search the Web for travel packages.

As you can see, checking fares and schedules has become a minority in E-Travel Internet-usage, which proves how mature these E-Travellers have become.

These figures prove that the Web media has become a real tool that helps E-Travellers to plan their trips.

The result of this behavioural change is clear:

  • 71% of online planners report using traditional travel agents less often than before to prepare their trip.

This shows one of the biggest evolutions the web has ever gone through as far as E-Travellers usage patterns are concerned: Internet users now accept to become their own travel agent and are no longer afraid of playing the part of tourism leaders.

  • 68% report they call or visit state tourism offices less and less often.

  • 68% say they are placing fewer calls directly to airlines.

  • The same thing happens with rental car companies as 58% Internet users report they do not call them as often as they used to.

  • 57% lodging companies receive less phone calls than they used to.

  • What's more, you will not be surprised to hear that 57% online travelers say they order travel brochures by phone less often.

All these figures well show that a new type of user is slowly but surely appearing. This new type of user proves more and more able to take responsibility for himself and is now capable of "building" his own travels and leisure trips.

The age of these E-Travellers also plays a part as 39% of the people who plan their journey online are under 35 and 50% are between 35 and 50.

Most of these E-Travellers are college-educated which may explain why 59% have annual incomes of $50,000 or more.

I think this new ability to plan and book an online travel explains why last minute travels tend to play a bigger and bigger role among all Tourism Web sites.

It is striking to notice that 54% of E-Travellers plan their trip less than one month in advance and 33% make last minute trip plans by going online within two weeks of the trip!

The Internet media proves favourable to last minute bookings. It proves much more difficult to make the same booking off line, especially if you want to make a booking within two weeks of the trip.

The Internet managed to create (or set free) a new type of behaviour in a very short time:

  • It induces people to accept and become their own travel agent.

  • It prompts them not to be afraid of last minute bookings.

These two elements put together constitute a new feeling of "freedom" for these E-Travellers.

Leisure travel already means freedom when compared to work. Being able to build this space of freedom by themselves probably represents one of the most important elements that prompt consumers to use the Internet more and more in order to plan and book their sojourns and travels.

But please be aware that Internet users could very well show interest for last minute trips only because they tend to associate this kind of trip with "good bargains".

In any case, the groundswell is getting bigger and bigger since, according to TIA, out of the 25 million U.S. travellers booked online in 2000, 15% say they make all the travel bookings online, and a strong majority makes at least half of their reservations online.

Please be aware that 51% of trips planned on the Internet include an online reservation or purchase. Among them, we have:

  • 55% of the trips include overnight lodging reservations.

  • 54% include booking a flight.

  • 29% include a rental car reservation.

All this proves that the travel industry is being presently being readjusted, for the benefit of online overnight lodging and car rental.

The study also shows another interesting element: it proves that traditional big Tourism brands remain extremely strong.

67% of Internet travel bookings and purchases are made directly on the supplier sites themselves: airline companies, hotel chains or even car rental companies, even though 54% of the respondents admit they go to on-line travel agencies like Expedia or Travelocity.

And finally, according to the survey by TIA, online bookings in the United-States have increased by 58% in 2000 when compared to 1999.

Source : TIA

| Top | Home | eCommerce | eMetrics | eFocus | eIndices | Archives | Links |
| © Copyright | Privacy Pledge | Contact | Reports | eShopability Expertise |

The Last eTourisme Trends and Figures: Sign Up Free

eTourism Newsletter Web Site Editor: Luc Carton