Travel Metasearch, Review Sites Gain as Stagnates

Published May 2012 Analyst: Marcello Gasdia


Travel Metasearch, Review Sites Gain as Stagnates

In 2011, vacations were enhanced with some of the frills that went missing in 2010. U.S. travelers spent more time on vacation, ventured beyond their borders more often, and stayed in pricier accommodations. A new Phocuswright Global Edition study reveals that this increased spending and complexity of travel stimulated more online shopping. Almost all online channels, including OTAs, travel metasearch and general search engines, travel review websites, flash deal websites and even social networks, experienced a healthy bump in usage for travel shopping – roughly 2-5% across the board.

However, according to Phocuswright's U.S. Consumer Travel Report Fourth Edition, one key online channel failed to expand its consumer reach over the past year: supplier websites. The percentage of travelers who shop for travel products through provider websites was stagnant, dipping slightly by 1%.

While a range of factors can influence a traveler's preference for one website over another, the types of websites that attracted more shoppers share one key characteristic: they all aggregate content. In fact, some of the biggest content aggregators in online travel – metasearch and travel review websites (i.e., Kayak and TripAdvisor) – demonstrated the largest year-over-year growth. Metasearch jumped 5% and was used by one third of all online travel shoppers in 2011, while just under a third of online travel shoppers used travel review websites – up 4% over 2010.

"It's no wonder that TripAdvisor's stock has been performing so well," says Carroll Rheem, senior director, research at Phocuswright. "Review websites have consistently been able to expand their audience, as have metasearch sites. Unfortunately for the metasearch market leader Kayak, however, wooing investors has been far more challenging, despite the company's large and loyal consumer following. Based on today's marketplace, they have a compelling proposition. But as Kayak is reportedly gearing up for another IPO attempt, questions remain about how Google's metasearch products will impact the competitive landscape in the long run."

Phocuswright's U.S. Consumer Travel Report Fourth Edition explores online behavior across four distinct phases of the online travel process: destination selection, shopping, booking and sharing. Based on a survey of more than 2,000 U.S. travelers, the report exposes and explains key trends in leisure travel, including overall travel incidence, travel expenditure, trip frequency and duration, types of trips, consumption of travel products and more. The study draws upon three years of longitudinal data, along with an analysis of travelers' intentions for the upcoming year, to provide a comprehensive picture of the current health and future direction of leisure travel.

Key topics include:

  • General traveler behavior, including incidence of travel, trip frequency and duration, travel party composition and travel spend
  • Travel component purchase incidence, with detailed analysis of air and lodging spend, and types of accommodations used
  • Websites used in various stages of online travel planning – destination selection, shopping, purchasing and sharing
  • Trip motivation and information sources used in destination research
  • Traveler shopping behavior, including types of websites used, online and offline sources of information, and influence of various types of online content
  • Most popular travel purchasing channels, online versus offline purchasing, and typical purchase methods by age and travel segment
For fresh insight into the trends driving consumer travel, and to find out if and how travelers put their money where their mouse is, purchase Phocuswright's U.S. Consumer Travel Report Fourth Edition.