New study reveals shift in buying habits

Expedia, Sabre, Cendant and Priceline control virtually the entire US online travel agency market and half the European market, a report by PhoCusWright has shown.

The annual Online Travel Overview study – the research company’s flagship report – also revealed that the key driver behind the online sales growth is a shift in bookings from direct call centres to supplier websites.

Previous reports suggested it was being fuelled by the public deserting offline travel agencies and turning to the web.

“Online bookings will continue to grow at about four times the rate of the total travel market in 2007, a clear indication that share shift is not over,” PhoCusWright said in a summary of the findings.

The online market will grow 26% this year, against overall growth of 7%.

Of the US online market, 97% is controlled by Expedia, Sabre, Cendant and Priceline, who also have a 12% share of the total travel market.

Figures show that US leisure and unmanaged business – corporate bookings not made by business agents – will hit almost £40 billion this year and rise to £54 billion by 2007 – 40% of the market.

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