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

$6.9 billion spent on American domestic travel sites in Q1 2002

According to Comscore Networks, American online consumer sales set a record of $17 billion for the first quarter of 2002, among which $6.9 billion for the travel sector alone, which represents 40.58% of all U.S. sales.

More interesting is the fact that these figures indicate an increase of 87% for travel sites versus the same period in 2001.

When one knows the impact the September attacks had on this sector of activity, this achievement appears all the more striking.

According to Comscore vice president Dan Hess, the arrival of sites such as in the travel sector, linked with ever increasing promotional offers and other discount products, helped the etourism sector develop in such a positive way.

This is how average daily sales made by online travel agents kept on setting a new record all through 2002 first quarter:

- $74.9 million daily travel sales in January 2002

- $76.8 million daily travel sales in February 2002

- $80.8 million daily travel sales in March 2002

This increase being so huge, Comscore specifies that, despite the period concerned, these sales are already much higher than the ones witnessed in the summer of 2001.

Even though we do not have the whole forecast for the year 2002 yet, it already seems that it should confirm the eTourism increasing power and that this year is going to be a good one for all the actors who have managed to convert their lookers into buyers.

Source : ComScore Networks

51.2 million surfers, a 12% increase between February and March 2002 on travel sites

According to Nielsen Netratings, the number of unique visitors on eTravel web sites surged to 51.4 million in March 2002, as compared to 45.9 million in February 2002.

These figures are confirmed by the sales registered by Comscore Networks (see previous article) that indicate a similar growth of the sector.

If we take all surf sessions into account, Netrating noticed that 43% of all Internet users visited an online travel site at least once in March 2002, which confirms the predominance of the sector in all the surf sessions.

We can also notice that online travel agencies are growing much faster than airline web sites.

This is how, among the top ten sites that registered a higher number of visits in March 2002, we have 7 online travel agencies (Orbitz included, which is a bit particular) for 3 airline companies only.

According to Nielsen Netratings, Expedia arrived first in March 2002, with as many as 11.6 million unique visitors.

Travelocity came second, with 10.2 million unique visitors.

Orbitz came third (6.5 million), followed by Southwest Airlines (5.2 million), then came Cheap tickets (4.4 million), American Airlines (4.2 million), Yahoo! Travel (4.2 million), Delta Airlines (3.9 million), Priceline (3.8 million) and AOL travel (3.6 million).

It also proves interesting to notice that the travel channel of the two biggest portals managed to remain among the top ten eTravel web sites. Please also note that Yahoo! travel is ahead of AOL Travel, when the latter was considered as the top one for a long time. Similarly, it seems that the "Orbitz bet" is a real success as we can see that this American airline federative web site does much better than individual web sites, even though it has only been online for less than a year, which is all the more striking as we know that it is a brand new company that still needs to assert itself in order to be at the height of its power.

This achievement for Orbitz, whose marketing expenses are rather significant, is a very strong indicator for Opodo, its European counterpart.

According to Nielsen Netratings, the average American Internet user spent, at the rate of 36 sessions per month, an average of 19 hours and 50 minutes online in March 2002, which represents an hour more than in February (18 hours and 44 minutes).

Source : Nielsen Netratings (pdf)

Business travel: even though Internet users still believe that lower fares are to be found online, traditional travel agents are still cheaper

According to a study conducted by Topaz International from May to December 2001, business travelers would waste time trying to find better fares online.

Indeed, according to Topaz, corporate travel agencies would be offering fares that average $170 per itinerary less than fares offered on the Internet sites, including sites such as,, or even

The results of the study conducted by Topaz indicate that fares offered online, compared to fares that can be obtained by companies using corporate travel agencies, would be 27% higher.

It goes without saying that not all companies can obtain such preferential fares through their traditional travel agency.

Topaz International emphasizes the fact that, in order to reach that goal, a managed travel program is required. It implies that a policy of travel program management must be wholly integrated between the corporate travel agent and said company.

To reinforce this study, Topaz International indicated that it found lower fares on the Internet less than 7% of the time.

By converse implication, what this means is that 93% of the time spent by business travellers on the Internet to find lower fares... only results in wasting both their time and their money!

Source : Topaz International - Summary of the study (pdf)

Airline sites' achievement measured by Jupiter Media Metrix

Jupiter Media Metrix just created the Jupiter Airline Core, that aims at measuring the way visitors behave on airline web sites according to five distinct measurement criteria:

- Number of unique visitors
- Number of visits per month
- Customer loyalty
- Online sales
- Online growth

These five criteria put together make it possible for Jupiter Media Metrix to establish an effectiveness index of said sites. Such index will be updated every six months.

Highest frequency rate
According to Jupiter, the sites with the highest number of visits per unique visitors were, United Airlines and USAirways.

Best loyalty rate
Sites whose Internet users tend to visit competitive web sites least happen to be JetBlue, Delta Airlines, United Airlines and American airlines.

Best online sales performance
The sites with the highest online sales performance are JetBlue, Southwest Airlines, Airtran and Alaska Air. According to Jupiter, these sites are the ones that proved best at attracting their customers to the online channel up to now.

Jupiter Airline Core's consolidated results:

1- Southwest: 100
2- 78
3- JetBlue: 76
4- 73
5- United: 70
6- USAirways: 57
7- 49
8- NWA: 48
9- Alaska-Air: 46
10- 28

Source : Jupiter Media Metrix