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Issue 2002 2 - Tuesday, February 26, 2002

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  23 million Europeans will buy their travel over the phone in 2005

23 million Europeans

will buy their travel
over the phone
in 2005

94.6 million unique visitors: a new record of visits in the eTourism in January 2002


According to the last IDC study, over 23 million Europeans will use their mobile phones to buy travel products and services by 2005.

The study, which does not only include online leisure and business travel services, specifies that as far as public transport tickets are concerned, 49 million Europeans are expected to buy public transport tickets with their mobile phones by 2005.

IDC believes that much of this growth should take place between 2003 and 2005, as the technology should then be more available and mobile payment should also be made easier.

IDC stresses the fact that all the professionals who started to use these solutions before their competitors will then have a non negligible competitive advantage.

It seems as if new standards such as the GPRS and soon the UMTS technology should validate this type of prediction. Nevertheless, one should still remain cautious as far as this forecasting is concerned.


There is no doubt that it will depend on how fast these new standards develop, country by country, but also on the price policies phone operators will apply, and it is only then that one will be able to forecast the impact it will have on people.

We can clearly see it today, not only in the United-States but even more so in Europe, that the cost of Internet access still remains a major setback for many people.

What is more, as we unfortunately already witnessed it with the WAP, one must also consider the ergonomic side of things.

Indeed, the WAP suffered from a double setback : a dramatic usability as well as a far too weak band width.

In my opinion, there is one type of product that should manage to prompt mobile phone users to buy their travel online: the PDA phones.

It is in fact the PDAs (pocket computers such as Palm-PDA : Personal Digital Assistant) that, on top of their computing functions, also allow their users to telephone. Two in one, in a manner of speaking.

Manufacturers such as handspring have already started to offer the first products of this kind, and the future of this type of devices seems rather interesting, if we are to we believe a study carried out by the eTForecast company that predicts that the number of PDA phones throughout the world should reach 49 millions by 2007, among which 14 millions should be found in the United-States alone.

If we take away the number of PDA phones intended for the American, Asian and Pacific markets, one can roughly estimate that there should not be anymore than 15 million PDA phones in Europe by 2007 (which is two years after the IDC forecast).

Let's put these four elements together : date when these new standards should spread out, price policies, massive use of these technologies by Europeans and creation of usable devices on a technological point of view. When the IDC is hoping for a strong growing period starting in less than a year, one could be tempted to think that these predictions are a little bit too optimistic…


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   94.6 million unique visitors: a new record in the eTourism in January 2002  


According to Comscore Networks, the number of unique visitors who surfed on eTourism web sites world-wide reached 93,4 million Internet users in January 2002, which represents 30% of the whole Internet population throughout the world.

The growth in the number of visitors between December and January 2002 reached 14% on a world-wide scale, the sites themselves having only increased by 5%.

These very good figures, that set a new record for eTravel and eTourism web site (the last record having been reached in August 2001 with 94 million unique visitors) seem to indicate that the hardest part is now behind us.

In the United-States, compared with an average 5% growth for the sector as a whole, some sites saw their audience explode between December 2001 and January 2002 (in terms of unique visitors):

- Travelocity: +32%
- Cheaptickets: +27%
- Hotwire: +25%
- Travelnow: +40%

Please also note that just announced that it added 1.75 million new Internet in the fourth quarter of 2001, which is more than twice the number of new Internet users reported by over the same period (854.000).

Some other sites did not benefit from this growth as much as or in January 2002:

- +1%
- -10%

All in all, one can say that the eTourism sector is in better shape than it used to be in the past months and the figures concerning the world-wide audience confirms that the Internet has now got its aristocratic pedigree in the eTravel sector.

Worldwide audience in January 2002 (in millions of unique visitors):

- 16,069 millions
- 11,827 millions
- 10,922 millions
- 6,567 millions
- 5,518 millions
- 4,832 millions
- 4,692 millions
- 4,557 millions
- 4,506 millions
- 4,053 millions

As far as is concerned, and even though these figures have not been confirmed by Comscore, it claims that it receives as many as 5 million visitors on its web site every month.

And finally, just announced record-breaking January ticket sales: 545.000 tickets sold, representing $145.000 millions in revenue. Ticket sales in January turned out to be 100% higher than the January 2001 figures.

This new interest in eTourism can partly be explained by the fact that many travellers, who had preferred to postpone their trips after September 11th, have finally shown interest in the appealing prices that have been offered online for a few months now.

But this cannot obliterate the fact that travellers' trust is partly back. Otherwise, how could you explain the fact that the January figures were higher than the ones registered in August ?

These elements set a new optimistic tone for the eTourism sector, but they also represent an element of anxiety for those who started to believe in the great potential of growth represented by the Internet today.

Please remember that, according to Forrester Research, 70 to 80% of plane tickets will be delivered in the form of e-tickets that by 2003: do you really think that they will be purchased offline?


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