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With more people than ever favouring the internet to make their travel bookings, the future looks bright for the online travel industry. Online travel has successfully weathered the recession and it seems the industry will have hit an all-time high by the end of 2013.
The internet has revolutionised the way consumers are now booking their holiday and travel arrangements. Using the internet to book a holiday is convenient, cheaper and offers a huge amount of choice as well as the opportunity to price check deals against each other with comparison websites.
Flexibility is another key factor and many consumers will be booking their last minute holidays in 2014 only weeks before they depart, eliminating the need to book a year in advance to obtain the best deals.
Online bookings for travel agents, hotels, flights and car rentals have all undergone significant growth. The rise in sales of portable goods which rely on the web such as tablets and smart phones may also have contributed to the rise in online travel bookings.
More people on a global scale are now using the internet to make their travel bookings as opposed to using the traditional travel agencies. Britain is the world leader in online travel bookings and UK consumers used the internet to book 78% of their trips abroad last year, which is a 47% jump on 2008.
The findings from a report conducted by the IPK International’s World Travel Monitor from 2008 to 2012 show that traditional travel agents are losing out to online agencies. China’s internet bookings have doubled to 39% while in Russia the online travel market share has quadrupled to 42% in the last five years.
The Adobe Digital Index report 2013, which was based on the analysis of more than 150 mobile and worldwide travel sites from 2009 to 2013, revealed a 2013 10% increase from the previous year for the US online travel companies analysed. The US online company bookings are expected to hit $54 billion by the third quarter with an 8% to 10% year on year growth in the fourth quarter, a quarter that usually sees a reduction in bookings.
The continued success of online travel agencies has resulted in a shake up for traditional travel agents and in 2011 41 UK travel agents went bankrupt. The bankruptcies are claimed to have been caused by factors such as the Arab spring and natural disasters but the rise in internet bookings is also stated as a reason. In spring 2013, the major holiday operator Thomas Cook shut 195 high street travel agents, axing 2,500 jobs.
The way back for traditional travel agents may be found in the statement made at the time of the Thomas Cook job losses. Manuel Cortes, the General Secretary of The Transport Salaried Staffs Association, which represents Thomas Cook employees said, “The company needs new products if it is to come to terms with the age of the internet and prosper in the 21st century.”