U.S. Online Travel Overview Fourteenth Edition: Online Travel Agencies

U.S. Online Travel Overview Fourteenth Edition: Online Travel Agencies Published December 2014 Analyst: Douglas Quinby


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The recovery of the U.S online travel agency (OTA) market since the recession has been an uneven one. On one hand, they've seen strong growth in hotels – on the other, struggles with airlines. Increased travel demand and an improving economy is countered by hot competition and market complexity. But overall, the outlook is positive, especially as U.S. leisure travelers have re-entered the market and rapid shifts from desktop to mobile create new opportunities for OTAs.

Phocuswright's U.S. Online Travel Overview Fourteenth Edition: Online Travel Agencies provides an in-depth look at the current state of the OTA market and projects future performance, with market sizing and forecasting through 2016.

U.S. Travel Market Overview
To put the OTA-specific trends in perspective, this report includes a comprehensive overview of the total U.S. travel market. The robust overview chapter includes market sizing and projections for the U.S. travel market through 2016, including breakouts for key online and offline distribution channels and all major travel segments – airlines, hotels, car rental, cruises, tour operators and rail. provides a detailed overview of travel distribution in the U.S., with analysis of trends in market share, technological innovation and consumer behavior.

Purchase Phocuswright's U.S. Online Travel Overview Fourteenth Edition: Online Travel Agencies for comprehensive market sizing of the U.S. OTA segment and highlights of the brands that have driven the growth of the online channel.

  • Size and Structure of the U.S. Online Travel Market
    • Composition of the U.S. Travel Market
      • Segment Share
    • U.S. Travel Market – Channel Shift
    • Online Travel Outlook
    • Online Segment Share
    • Online Penetration by Segment
    • Supplier Websites vs. OTAs
    • Mobile
    • Key Findings
    • Purpose of the Report
    • Methodology
      • Market Size and Forecasts
      • Consumer Travel and Behavioral Information
  • Online Travel Agencies: The More Things Change…
    • Key Findings
    • A Note on Methodology
    • Size of the Market
    • Flights Stabilize as Hotels Rise
    • Car, Cruises & Packages
    • Suppliers vs. OTAs: The More Things Change…
    • In the U.S., a New Order
    • Expedia’s Defense to Priceline’s Offense
    • From Mobile to Multiples
    • Meta: Where Search Meets Book
    • The Sharing Economy Warms to OTAs… Somewhat

Market Size and Forecasts
Phocuswright has been tracking the financial results of the online travel industry since 1998. This report's estimates and forecasts cover U.S.-based travel businesses, including travel suppliers (airlines, hotels, car rental companies, packagers, railways and cruise lines) and online travel agencies. The total market size includes sales of non-U.S. travel suppliers transacted via U.S.-based online travel agencies. All figures are in U.S. dollars unless otherwise stated.

Both leisure and unmanaged business travel services are included in the online travel market size and forecast figures. Unless otherwise indicated, all online gross bookings and share figures refer to leisure/unmanaged travel. Unmanaged business travel refers to all air, car and hotel expenses associated with business travel in firms that do not have travel policies dictating the channels, types of travel, suppliers or fares/rates used. Corporate online booking systems such as Concur Technologies and Sabre Holdings' GetThere are excluded from this analysis.

Phocuswright builds its estimates and forecasts from discussions with more than 80 travel executives regarding their companies' Internet sales, marketing and technology investments, challenges, strategies and expectations. Their responses have been vetted and aggregated to determine market size for supplier websites and online travel agencies. Phocuswright also reviewed data from Securities and Exchange Commission documents, company reports, and select third-party data sources.

Figures for 2012-2013 are based on actual company results. Projections for 2014-2016 are based on company interviews, consumer research and market developments. Phocuswright also considers historical growth and economic trends when developing its forecasts. Estimates and projections are for gross bookings – the retail value of travel sold over the Internet – after cancellations. Figures for airlines are based on flown (passenger) revenue. Hotel figures are based on room revenue. Figures for car rental are based on domestic U.S. revenues, excluding insurance replacement revenue. Figures for cruise lines and tour operators are based on U.S. outbound passenger revenue. Figures for rail are based on passenger ticket revenue.

Where possible, travel that is researched online but booked offline using toll-free telephone numbers provided on websites is excluded from online gross bookings figures. Total travel figures (online and offline) are used to determine Internet penetration for each market segment. Total travel figures are either derived from third-party sources or are Phocuswright estimates.

Phocuswright changed its methodology for calculating OTA gross bookings beginning with the thirteenth edition of the U.S. Online Travel Overview. In 2012 and beyond, hotel OTA sales will include estimates and projections for U.S. sales of Priceline's Booking.com unit, rather than following Priceline's financial filing reporting lines, which place Booking.com gross bookings in its international gross bookings. Another methodology change involves Expedia. To better reflect leisure/unmanaged business travel bookings, corporate bookings from its Egencia unit are now excluded from Expedia's U.S. OTA figures. For more on these changes, see the Online Travel Agencies section of this report.

Note that figures listed in tables do not always add precisely to column totals due to rounding.

Consumer Travel and Behavioral Information
Phocuswright fielded an online consumer survey between February 28 and March 6, 2014, through Global Market Insite, Inc., targeting members of the general U.S. adult population who have Internet access and travel for leisure.

To qualify for participation in the study, respondents had to indicate they had taken at least one leisure trip at least 75 miles from home in the past 12 months that included paid lodging and/or air travel. An additional screener required consumers to have played active roles in planning their leisure trips. Respondents who qualified are referred to as "U.S. travelers." The term "lodging" is used in this report to refer to the broad range of paid accommodations, including hotels, other nightly priced lodging products, timeshares and vacation rentals.

Phocuswright received 1,850 qualified responses. The weighted respondent pool can be projected with confidence to the U.S. adult population with Internet access. A total of 4,138 respondents were surveyed to obtain baseline metrics about travelers and non-travelers within the general online population. The error interval for analysis of the U.S. traveler population is ±2.3% at a 95% confidence level.

Based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau and Pew Research Center, Phocuswright projects the number of U.S. adults with Internet access who took at least one leisure trip (as previously defined) in 2013 to be 127 million people (see Figure 1.1). These travelers represent 54% of the total U.S. adult population. The additional requirement for respondents to have played active roles in travel planning further tightens the study's focus, as 19% of travelers were consequently disqualified. Phocuswright's U.S. Consumer Travel Report Sixth Edition examines travelers who played active roles in planning their trips.

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