Online agents lose share to direct suppliers

Online travel agencies are losing market share as more people book direct with hotel and airline websites.

Web intelligence firm Hitwise said overall visits to web sites grew 8% in October.

But it was fuelled by suppliers rather than agents with hotels attracting 18% more visits, commercial airlines increasing 17% and car by hire 16%. In contrast visits to online travel agencies fell 3%.

However, director of research Heather Hopkins said larger agencies continued to enjoy strong growth with Expedia attracting 16% more visits.

She said the shift could be attributed to traditional companies strengthening their online brands.

Hopkins added: “People are going to agencies but more and more are then going direct to compare prices.”

According to figures, Expedia has remained the most popular site since January, capturing 10.4% of the market in October. Lastminute was number two with 6.66% share followed by Thomson and Airline Network with 4.33% and 3.38% share respectively.

In the airline sector Easyjet, British Airways and Ryanair have all lost share – by 21%, 8% and 5% respectively – as Jet2 and Thomsonfly cranked up their marketing and more than doubled their number of visits.

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