Hitwise: Yahoo! investment yields growing share of travel market

The first Experian Hitwise quarterly travel report suggested Yahoo!’s recent multi-million investment in its brand is paying off.

The search engine was the fastest-moving agency website for the quarter to the end of July, taking a 1.51% share of visits, although this left it well short of the top 10.

The report said Yahoo!’s performance was a sign that its recent £100 million marketing investment had paid dividends in the travel sector.

In the travel agency sector Thomson extended its lead at the top over Expedia, increasing its share by 0.03% over the previous quarter as both Expedia and Thomas Cook, in fourth, saw reduced share.

The second fastest-moving travel agency brand was Teletext Holidays, which broke into the list of top 10 UK agency websites.

Most popular search terms for the quarter reflected both the time of year, with last-minute terms featuring heavily, and customer belt-tightening with ‘cheap’ or ‘low cost’ terms equally prevalent.

Experian Hitwise produced more detailed analysis on the holiday sector’s main trend in recent years: the move towards all-inclusive holidays.
It found Egypt and Turkey were neck-and-neck in terms of destination-based search terms in the sector, although Egypt saw a downturn in traffic after April as the pound recovered against the Euro.

The dominance of lowcost rivals easyJet and Ryanair was confirmed, with the former not only the most searched for brand in the airline sector, but the fastest mover, increasing its share by 1.39%.

Between them the two carriers controlled 40% of airline online traffic, leaving British Airways a lowly third ahead of Jet2.com and Flybe. Six of the top 10 airline brands were cheap flight providers.

Robin Goad, Hitwise research director, said easyJet was probably more dominant than these figures suggested because many people searching for flights to Spain were looking for lowcost carriers.

Spain was the most searched-for country term, and Tenerife, Malaga, Alicante and Barcelona ranked second, fourth, seventh and ninth respectively in the top ten destinations.

“When you look at searches for short-haul flights, very often the budget airlines do very well because their websites are quite well optimised,” Goad said.

“When you look at people doing more long-haul destination searches, very often they end up on an aggregator site because they do not really know what airlines fly there.

“People want to compare across the different airlines and see the different options they have. When people want to go to Spain they know who flies there and often go direct to that brand.”

Goad said the findings vindicated Ryanair’s strategy of relying on the strength of its brand, since it has kept pace with rivals despite doing little paid search advertising.

“Doing well on generic search and extending your paid search spending is important but so is brand, particularly in an environment when a few travel companies have gone bust and left people stranded.

“Ryanair and easyJet have very different strategies. EasyJet does a lot of SEO, a lot of paid search whereas Ryanair basically does very little paid search and pretty much no SEO.

“Virtually all of its traffic is people searching for their brand. Most other companies need to have a mixture of brand and do well on generic search.”

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