European online travel market holds steady in 2009

This report about the online travel market’s performance in 2009 suggests that tourism businesses should continue to focus on ensuring that they are as accessible as possible, especially during the slow climb out of recession.  Read it on the HotelMarketing.com website by clicking here, or scroll down.

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European online travel bookings are projected to grow slightly by 0.6% in 2009 according to PhoCusWright. Internet distribution channels continue to outperform the European travel market as a whole, which is projected to decline by 10% in 2009.

“As Europeans seek to make the most of their treasured time off this year, they are increasingly using online options to plan the best holiday for their budget,” says Carroll Rheem, director, research at PhoCusWright. “Online travel agencies are weathering this economic storm better than any other booking channel.”

While the online leisure and unmanaged business market was able to stay in positive territory in 2009, it is clearly suffering from the drop in travel demand. The double-digit growth seen in recent years is gone and is not expected to return in the next several years. It is the strong performance of online travel agencies (OTAs) that will drive online growth as supplier Web sites will decline slightly for the year. OTAs are projected to reach gross bookings of €23 billion in 2009, with much of the growth driven by hotel products.

“Even in the bleak travel backdrop of 2009, some travel companies are thriving—and not all of them are OTAs. Countercyclical trends bolster these companies while exacerbating decline for others. Those dependent on business travelers are among the hardest hit,” adds Rheem. The European corporate travel market is projected to decline by 17%, substantially more than the total market decline. As companies have slashed their travel budgets in response to their own challenges, both transaction volume and prices have fallen significantly across markets and travel verticals.

Economic recession and weakened consumer spending have affected all European nations and exposed strengths and weaknesses among each regional market and industry segment. PhoCusWright’s European Online Travel Overview Fifth Edition is a comprehensive analysis of the European online travel market. It includes an overview of the European market and detailed analysis of the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Scandinavia and Spain.

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What do you think? Have you seen a rise in online bookings this year? To what do you attribute the change?

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