Peak booking period data from Hitwise has underlined the growing popularity of peer to peer accommodation site Airbnb, the travel site most reliant on social media for clicks.
The travel insights firm found overall the sharing economy was the fastest-growing segment in travel in the key three week period from Boxing Day when travel firms traditional see high volumes of inquiries and sales.
In contract, Hitwise recorded healthy but stabilising growth for online hotel aggregators. This sector saw a 13% rise in visitor numbers over the same period last year down from 59% the previous year.
Airbnb’s rise dwarfed all others with a 90% year-on-year increase for the early January peak season, equating to just over six million visits during the three weeks.
This came as growth in visits to hotel websites direct saw a slowdown, rising just 3% over the three week period following last year’s rise of 5%.
However, Airbnb’s rise dwarfed all others with a 90% year-on-year increase for the early January peak season, equating to just over six million visits during the three weeks.
Hitwise also looked at audience segments and found older people are increasingly using aggregators and the likes of Airbnb, previously more the preserve of younger browsers.
Hotel aggregators typically attract a younger audience compared to hotel direct (33% versus 28% aged 18-34), however, older audiences are growing with the 45-plus segment up 21% year on year.
Compared to aggregators and hotel direct, Airbnb attracts the youngest audience (38% aged 18-34). But it saw a significant 135% growth in people aged 45-plus.
The data also reveals travel players are diversifying their campaigns and relied less on search to drive traffic over the peak season. Hotel aggregators saw 5% decline in search compared to last year’s January peak season.
Hitwise said this sector is becoming more reliant on channels that naturally attract a younger audience, like social media (up 7%) and multimedia (up 29%).
For hotel direct the reliance on search was similar with the previous year, just 1% down and there was a growing reliance on channels that attract an older audience including rewards and directories (up 29%) and print media (up 24%).
Airbnb took a different approach to channel mix than the other two segments.
Queries with ‘late deal’ in them grew 178% in volume for the four-week period to January 14.
The site relied the least on search, accounting for 39% of all upstream clicks, and the most on social media which drove 9% of clicks, compared to 4% for aggregators and 3% for direct hotel sites.
Search term analysis of the 10,000 terms that drive traffic to the travel industry found queries with ‘late deal’ in them grew 178% in volume for the four-week period to January 14.
Search queries with ‘cheap train’ in them grew by 64% and with ‘cheap flight’ grew by 34%. Terms with ‘cheap all inclusive’ fell by 8%, but terms with ‘all inclusive’ (excluding cheap) grew by 45%. Terms including the word ‘luxury’ grew by 108%.
Hitwise analyses online behaviour from what it claims to be the largest online panel in the US, UK and Australia and covers nine million websites, 160 million searches and one million mobile devices.
It provides travel partners benchmarking and marketing analysis through its AudienceView platform.