Long-haul online hotel bookings treble in 12 months

Hotel bookings made online for long-haul destinations have seen a three-fold increase from 2004 to 2005, a new survey has revealed.

The number of consumers using the internet to find and book accommodation in locations as far away as the Maldives, Pakistan, Russia, Fiji, Oman, Belize and Peru have risen by around 200%, Hotels.com said in the first release of its Hotel Price Index.

The Expedia-owned website has been tracking hotel prices and booking trends since January 2004 and released the first of its reports this week.

The massive increase in the number of bookings to long-haul destinations on its website signified a shift in the buying habits of consumers, Hotels.com said.

“The fact that these hotels are being bought over the internet may reflect growing consumer confidence in both internet usage and in buying ‘unbundled’ services,” the report said.

In Europe, hotels in destinations traditionally included in package deals have also seen a significant increase in the number of online bookings.

Hotspots such as Playa del las Americas in the Canary Islands and Fuengirola in mainland Spain also saw online hotel bookings increase by 200% last year on 2004.

Meanwhile the report also revealed room prices in Europe fell sharply at the end 2005.

The survey of consumer bookings across 25,000 hotels saw the index fall from 111 in the fourth quarter of 2004 to 104. The index started at 100 in January 2004.

European prices fell by 8.7% year-on-year in Q4 2005. However prices in USA increased by 2.3% and the Rest of the World saw a rise of 4.6% over the same period.

Hotels.com managing director for Europe, Middle East and Africa, David Roche, said: “European prices took a tumble in 2005, so we will watch with interest whether they recover in 2006 – and whether spring city-breakers push prices up as they have in previous years.

“Meanwhile, we will also see whether the Americas can sustain the price increases we saw in 2005 – or whether prices have now topped out and falling demand will force them to come down once again.”

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