August 13, 2002 - - e-COMMERCE
(Print version)

66% of American users believe that eTourism web sites provide better services than travel agents!

These figures come from a study that surveyed 1.351 leisure and 1.200 business travelers on April 30, 2002 and that was carried out by Yesawich, Pepperdine & Brown/Yankelovich Partners.

eTourism web sites preferred to traditional travel agents.

According to the study, 39% of leisure American travelers (whether they use the Internet or not) think that the Internet is easier and faster to use for travel planning than a travel agent.

This figures proves extremely important, not only for the future of the eTourism sector but also on the behavioural point of view.

First of all, it indicates how positively eTourism web sites have been developing in the last few years, such as the improvement of their interfaces as well as their very rich content and offers which now allows more than a third of American leisure travelers to use the Internet rather than a travel agent.

This figure proves enormous as, related to the American population who uses the Internet (58,5%), it means that 66% of American Internet users think that the services provided by their travel agent are not as good as the ones provided by eTourism web sites. This would mean that only a third of Internet users nowadays prefer dealing with a travel agent than a web site: that's something to be worried about for this trade.

A third of American travelers book their travel on the Internet as well as...55% of Internet users

32% of the American leisure travelers who were polled actually made a reservation on the Internet in the last twelve months ; this figure was 33% for the business travelers who were surveyed

Please note that, when the same study was carried out a year ago, only 25% of business travelers claimed making a reservation on the Internet.

This is a huge increase as it corresponds to a 28% growth in just a year.

The percentage of leisure travelers making online reservations also proves rather impressive.

Indeed, to think that one out of three Americans now uses the Internet to make a reservation which, in comparison with the percentage of American population who has access to the Internet (58.5% according to Nielsen Netratings) means that nearly 55% of American Internet users booked their travel online at least once in 2001.

With over a third of the whole population and over half the population who has access to the Internet now using the Internet to make online reservations, the eTourism sector can no longer be overlooked and truly represents the trade's future.

The fact that it managed to go from a minor to a major actor in just a few years proves that the Internet media is truly powerful.

And this is only too true as we are only speaking of online reservations here.

This also means that within the population who has access to the Internet, it has become a totally normal and digested procedure for more than half of them to resort to eTourism web sites to make a reservation or to buy some other eTourism products.

In other words, any offline traveler who starts using the Internet is bound to start making online reservations sooner or later, with a 55% chance as of now.

90% of Americans who have access to the Internet search information on eTourism web sites

If we broaden the impact of the Internet on the eTourism sector to the search for information, we notice that 53% of American leisure travelers resort to the Internet to find both prices and information (when they were only 47% a year ago), which represents 90% of the American people who have access to the Internet, should we compare the results of this study to the one carried out by Nielsen Netratings.

As far as business travelers are concerned, figures are rather similar as 55% of them claim that they use the Internet to find information.

90% of American Internet users want discount prices and other special offers

What prompts American people to get information and make an online booking also proves interesting.

Indeed, 90% of business and/or leisure travelers consider that the most important function on an Internet web site is to have access to the lowest fares, flights, hotels or car rentals.

This figure proves interesting for two reasons.

It first means that, whatever the social class or the range of product, the web is now considered as a major tool to help find the lower price.

Secondly, the fact that so many travelers (90%, both business and leisure travelers) consider the ability to find the lowest fare as the most important function on an Internet web site indicates a typical general behaviour that favour discount offers on the eTourism sector.

One could have thought that bargain hunter phenomenons might mostly correspond to a specific category of customers.

But this study indicates that this is not so and that this specific type of behaviour has become the one adopted by most Internet users.

What this also indicates is that in order to keep its customers happy, an eTourism web site has no option but to provide them with this type of services.

Please note, for instance, that has got a specific search engine called "Deals" that also corresponds to a main page exclusively dedicated to this type of offers.

American tourists' favourite destinations

As far as tourism is concerned, not taking into account the Internet factor, the survey also included a few indications about Americans' dream destinations.


81% of leisure travelers want to spend their holidays in destinations they have never been to before.
67% want to go…to the beach.
51% are interested in arts/architectural and historic sites.
46% are attracted by remote and untouched destinations.
45% prefer theme parks.

International destinations favoured by American people:

71% Western Europe
25% Australia
18% Caribbean

Source : Yesawich, Pepperdine & Brown/Yankelovich Partners

Online discount: hotels strike back and offer 10 percent off lowest price found

I already mentioned the last eTourism issue that Six Continents Hotels now offered its online customers a 30% discount compared to its public prices, provided that their booking took place at least 21 days before the date of their stay.

Six Continents Hotels just set the target even higher by launching on May 9, 2002 its "Lowest Interest Rate Guarantee" program, soon followed by Starwood that launched its "Best Rate Guarantee" program on June 1, 2002.

Not only have these hotels decided to guarantee the best online price to their online customers, but they also decided to grant them an extra 10% discount should they find a better price on some other web site.

In order to benefit from these programs, our user first needs to go on said hotel web sites and book his room.

Once this done, our user can start looking for a better price on eTourism web sites such as expedia or

When our user finds a lower price, he just needs to notify the hotel reservation service; the latter then checks the price through the URL link provided by the customer and brings its price in line into the one found elsewhere, minus 10%.

This is far from the promise to pay back the difference if you find a better price, as an incentive of an extra 10% discount is being offered here.

The marketing technique proves extremely well devised as it prompts users to make a reservation on you web site first, thus customizing them to your site.

As a result, it should have a particularly strong effect on your looker-to-booker conversion rate.

Please also note that Six Continents Hotels already finds itself among the best achieving eTourism web sites with a 7.3% looker-to-booker conversion rate (unique visitors).

Source :