Potential for online travel growth ‘is greater in non-UK markets’

Headline findings from PhoCusWright’s (PCW) latest batch of European market reports confirms that the UK is the most mature online travel market in Europe, but warns that UK travel providers are “struggling to lure the remaining share of customers online”.

The US research giant expects online sales to account for 44% of gross sales in the UK this year. PCW said that the market is seeing an influx of late adopters, such as tour operators and travel management companies, which is restricting the growth opportunities for other suppliers.

Rail has grown significantly in the UK during the past two years, while bedbank operators might be interested in PCW’s observation that UK customers were three times more likely than the rest of Europe to book direct with a hotel.

With the UK’s online sales at 44%, OTAs looking for growth are advised to consider markets such as Italy and Spain, where the web will account for less than 20% of sales this year. Online rail and hotel bookings are identified as a growth area for Spain, while tour operators in Italy have yet to embrace the web as a distribution channel.

Europe’s biggest outbound travel market is Germany. PCW says that “Germans consumers allocate a good portion of their disposable income to travel regardless of the economy.”

Meanwhile, there is a cultural shift happening in France which OTAs and supplier-direct will take note of: PCW claims that the French have abandoned the traditional month long holiday in the summer in favour of “multiple mini-vacations scattered throughout the year.”

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