Though the travel industry is stating that traditional holiday bookings are expected to be flat in 2009, the credit crunch is clearly boosting other sectors of the industry.
According to the latest e-customer service index (e-csi) from digital research experts eDigitalResearch and industry trade body IMRG (Interactive Media in Retail Group), over half of the respondents (53%) stated they will not be forsaking their annual holiday overseas and are turning to the internet to source the very best deals making 2009 the best year ever for online travel retailers.
The research clearly identifies that online retailers will benefit from the current economic conditions and predicts a surge in activity over the coming year. Over half (57%) of respondents stated that the economic slowdown will make them more likely to shop online for holidays in 2009 and more importantly they won’t be altering their plans to travel despite the current financial climate.
The attraction of more competitive deals and lower prices will be a major driver, as 47% of people are planning to spend less on holidays this year and 58% stated they are primarily influenced by price when deciding who to book with.
“It is clear that online travel retailers have an amazing opportunity ahead of them this year,” commented director of eDigitalResearch, Michelle Fuller.
“As travel companies offer increasingly competitive deals online, more and more people are relying on the internet, not for just background research, but to book their holidays. Indeed, 45% of people are somewhat reliant on the internet to stretch their budgets.”
Michelle continued: “Interestingly for the travel operators, the index has highlighted that 32% of people will not use a travel agent to research their holiday before buying online. However, 13% of the respondents do not use the internet at all. The travel sector has undoubtedly witnessed a shift in consumer behaviour driven by making budgets work harder. Yet, it is very reassuring that more and more people are determined to beat the credit crunch blues and travel. There has never been a better time for online travel companies to capture an even greater market share.”
James Roper, chief executive of IMRG added: “Everybody needs a holiday – and this year more than ever, with stress levels high and people working harder than ever to keep or find employment. Prices are pointing in the customer’s favour, and as everybody now knows, online is where to find the best deals, so naturally the e-agents will do best.
“Another great thing about the internet is how it lets even the smallest niche holiday offer get onto the marketplace, so the odd mid-week chalet here or the very last-minute plane seats there, that would previously have been left empty, can be offered to and found by customers. While grey clouds hang over Blighty, would-be travellers’ blue horizons have never been wider.”