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Online Traffic and Conversion Report Second Edition
Analysts: Carroll Rheem
Report | Published: February 2011

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  • Summary
  • Contents
  • Methodology

Publication Summary

Travelers generate millions of clicks every day as they look up prices, read reviews, flip through pictures, watch videos and map itineraries in the quest to design the perfect trip. Suppliers and online travel agencies (OTAs) still drive the core of Web activity today, but nontransactional categories like traveler review websites, lead generators and metasearch engines now represent an indelible part of the online travel world. Phocuswright partnered with Boston, MA-based Compete Inc. to measure and track the increasingly complex flow of Web traffic and bookings. Phocuswright's Online Traffic and Conversion Report Second Edition studies two critical online consumer-behavior metrics: traffic (monthly unique visitors) and conversion (the percentage of monthly unique visitors who complete a transaction). Using these core metrics, the report analyzes major categories within the travel vertical, including both transactional and nontransactional sites. Individual products – such as air, hotel and car rental – are tracked to explore the dynamic between supplier sites and OTAs, as well as how nontransactional sites – such as deal publishers and review sites – affect conversion. Key topics include:

  • Traffic to key transactional and nontransactional travel website categories (January 2008 – June 2010)
  • Analysis of OTA versus supplier traffic for individual product categories (air, hotel, car, cruise, package)
  • Conversion rates by product category and channel
  • Cross-visitation dynamics for air, hotel and car products, including product shoppers who also visited nontransactional categories
  • Snapshots of TripAdvisor and Kayak and impact of visitation on hotel/air conversion
While online travel has reached mature status, it still remains a dynamic marketplace of winners and losers. Phocuswright's Online Traffic and Conversion Report Second Edition illuminates the key trends that are shaping where consumers click and how they book. Purchase the report today.

Table of Contents

32 Pages

Section 1: Overview, Methodology and Key Findings

Section 2: The Big Picture

Section 3: Transactional Sites - Overview

Section 4: Transactional Sites - Cross-Visitation

Section 5: Nontransactional Categories

Section 6: Conclusion


Summary of Traffic to Travel Categories (Monthly Category Unique Visitors)

Traffic to Travel Categories (Monthly Unique Visitors)

Traffic to Product Categories (Air, Hotel) by Channel (Monthly Unique Visitors)

Traffic to Product Categories (Car, Cruise, Packages) by Channel (Monthly Unique Visitors)

Year Over Year Growth in Traffic to Air and Hotel Categories by Channel (Monthly Unique Visitors)

Monthly Unique Conversion Rates by Product Category and Channel

Quarterly Conversion Rates by Product Category and Channel

Year Over Year Variance in Hotel and Air Category Conversion Rates by Channel

Supplier Share of Monthly Unique Product Purchasers

Converted and Lost Bookers as a Percentage of Shoppers, by Product and Channel

Aggregate Product Shoppers Who Also Visited Nontransactional Categories

Comparison of Air Conversion Rates Based on Nontransactional Category Visitation by Channel, 2Q10

Comparison of Hotel Conversion Rates Based on Nontransactional Category Visitation by Channel, 2Q10

Sources of Immediate Referral Among Supplier Bookers

Traffic to Nontransactional Categories (Monthly Unique Visitors)

TripAdvisor Unique Monthly Visitors

TripAdvisor Website Usage (% of Unique Visitors)

Hotel Conversion Rates of TripAdvisor Visitors (Monthly and 15-Day)

Analysis of TripAdvisor Visitors Who Book a Hotel Within the Same Month

TripAdvisor Hotel Booking Distribution Among 15-Day Bookers

Kayak Monthly Unique Visitors

Kayak Booking Transfers

Air Conversion Rates of Kayak Visitors (Monthly and 15-Day)

Analysis of Kayak Visitors Who Book Air Within the Same Month

Kayak Air Booking Distribution Among 15-Day Bookers


Phocuswright and Compete analyzed website page views of the following online travel categories from January 2007 through June 2010: Transactional categories:

  • Online travel agencies (OTAs): Websites that feature online booking for multiple suppliers for one or more supply types
    • Examples: expedia.com, orbitz.com,travelocity.com, priceline.com, hotels.com
  • Airlines: Websites officially operated by airlines
    • Examples: southwest.com, delta.com, aa.com, jetblue.com, united.com
  • Hotel companies: Websites officially operated by hotel chains
    • Examples: hilton.com, holidayinn.com, bestwestern.com, hamptoninn.com, marriott.com
  • Car rental companies: Websites operated by car rental companies
    • Examples: enterprise.com, hertz.com, budget.com, avis.com, alamo.com
  • Cruise lines: Websites operated by cruise lines
    • Examples: carnival.com, hollandamerica.com, cunard.com, princess.com
  • Vacation packagers: Websites featuring tour operator or dynamically packaged products
    • Examples: funjet.com, libertytravel.com, pleasantholidays.com, southwestvacations.com, aavacations.com
  • Vacation rentals: Websites featuring vacation home rental, fractional ownership and timeshares
    • Examples: homeaway.com, flipkey.com, wyndham-vacations.com, resortquest.com, marriottvacationclub.com
  • Casinos: Websites officially operated by casinos and the lodging properties associated with them
    • Examples: harrahs.com, mgmmirage.com, planethollywood.com, theborgata.com, mohegansun.com
Nontransactional categories:
  • Travel guides: Websites that feature general information and editorial advice for travelers
    • Examples: trails.com, away.com, virtualtourist.com, roadsideamerica.com, frommers.com
  • Lead generators: Websites that mainly direct visitors to other sites based on a listing of offers or facilitating searches on multiple sites at once
    • Examples: travelzoo.com, cheapflights.com, bookingbuddy.com, shermanstravel.com, smartertravel.com
  • Metasearch: Websites that feature the aggregation of real-time product information from multiple sites into a single display and direct visitors to these sites to book
    • Examples: kayak.com, sidestep.com, fly.com, mobissimo.com, farecompare.com
  • Planning & reviews: Websites that feature user-generated reviews and trip planning tools
    • Examples: tripadvisor.com, igougo.com, mytravelguide.com, realtravel.com, cruisecritic.com
  • Destination & tourism: Websites operated by destination marketing organizations such as convention and visitor bureaus and those that feature destination-specific information
    • Examples: virginia.org, visitflorida.com, showhotel.com, hawaii.com, sandiego.org
Please note that although a handful of sites in the nontransactional categories may process travel bookings (e.g., some destination marketing organizations), these sites and categories are defined as nontransactional because their primary function is to provide travel information and/or referrals. Similarly, a small portion of transactional sites do not offer online booking capability, but their shared purpose is generally to facilitate transactions via other channels (i.e., some vacation packager sites). Mobile platforms (including mobile websites and applications) are excluded from Compete's analysis. Compete conducted analysis for the study using its proprietary data methodology, including the following:
  • Two million active panelists, aggregated from 10+ unique data sources (proprietary panels, plus ISP and ASP partnerships)
  • Usage, demographic and geographic weighting to match independent monthly Omnibus survey
  • Extrapolation to make data representative of the U.S. Internet population
  • Triangulation across sources to identify and rebalance for bias
Compete captures and calculates metrics using the following methodology: Monthly unique visitors (visitors): This metric reflects visitors to a specified website during the specified calendar month, and counts each visitor once regardless of how many times he or she visits within the month. Monthly unique category visitors (category visitors): This measurement reflects visitors to a specified website category during the specified calendar month, and counts each visitor once regardless of how many times or how many different websites he or she visits in the category within the month. Monthly unique product shoppers (air/hotel/car rental/cruise/package shoppers): For OTAs, this value reflects monthly unique category visitors (to the top seven OTAs) who have initiated a search for the specified product within the specified calendar month, and counts each visitor once regardless of how many times he or she searched within the month. When applied to supplier websites, the term "shopper" refers to all monthly unique visitors of supplier websites, regardless of whether or not they conducted a product search. Therefore, supplier websites have slightly inflated shopper volumes, and slightly underrepresented conversion rates in comparison to OTAs. Conversion rate (conversion): Monthly unique purchasers reflect visitors who make a purchase on a specified website during a specified calendar month, and count each purchaser once regardless of how many times he or she purchases within the month. Conversion is calculated by dividing monthly unique purchasers into monthly unique visitors (or OTA product shoppers). Quarterly visitors/shoppers/conversion: This number is calculated by averaging results for the three calendar months within the specified quarter.