Supplier websites fail to expand in 2011

A new PhoCusWright study revealed that increased spending by American travelers and the complexity of travel stimulated more online shopping in 2011. Almost all online channels — including OTAs, travel metasearch and general search engines, travel review websites, flash deal websites and even social networks — experienced a bump in usage for travel shopping of roughly 2% to 5%. However, supplier websites failed to expand their customer reach, dipping 1%.

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 (for example, 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 one-third of online travel shoppers used travel review websites — up 4% over 2010.

“Review websites have consistently been able to expand their audience, as have metasearch sites,” said Carroll Rheem, senior director, research, at PhoCusWright. “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.”