Travel brands are absent from the top ten of IMRG Experian Hitwise’s Hot 100 shops list for the first time as they face increasingly stiff competition from sectors developing their online presence.
In the latest rankings easyJet claimed 12th place, the highest spot for a travel firm in the annual list that measures site traffic on transactional websites.
Expedia, Thomson Holidays and Ryanair came in at 17th, 18th and 19th respectively but all three had slipped down the rankings, a trend that has been evident since the list was first published in 2006.
Notable declines include British Airways, down to 39th from 11th in 2006, and First Choice, down to 60th from 26th in 2006.
Bucking the trend were independent OTAs Travel Republic, up to 46th from 52nd in 2010, and On The Beach up to 64th from 75th last year.
Thomas Cook held its 23rd position from last year, meaning it gained ground on Expedia and big two rival Thomson. Lastminute.com’s long-term decline continued, with the brand slipping to 22nd from 18th last year and a high of 12th in 2006.
Thomson’s sister brand First Choice remained outside of the top 50 following a dramatic fall in 2009 after the merger with Tui Travel. Monarch slipped to 85th, just ahead of Virgin Atlantic in 87th but well behind Jet2.com in 65th.
James Murray, marketing search analyst for IMRG Experian Hitwise, said although there was a long-term trend of travel firms dropping down the list there were mitigating circumstances to explain this year’s performance.
“Although these are year-on-year figures we are taking the top 100 from April data. In that period we had all the bank holidays, the royal wedding and the weather was nice, so it’s not surprising that airlines in particular have dropped.
“The main message is do not panic. It’s not like travel is in a massive nose dive or decline, it’s more of a seasonal trend.
“The key moments for travel come in January and in July every year and this was never going to be travel’s best quarter.
“There is an ongoing trend for travel to slip in the rankings but that’s more attributable to other brands in other sectors doing better rather than travel brands doing worse.
“What we are seeing is a lot of brands in fashion and also house and garden and department stores doing much better online. They are growing and others are getting squeezed slightly.”
Airline and outbound operator performance was also likely to have been affected by the continuing interest in UK domestic holidays, which the Hitwise quarterly travel report later this week will show, Murray added.
Domestic operators fared notably better in the Hitwise Hot 100 shops list, with Haven entering for the first time at 100th and Hoseasons returning to the list at 85th.
Travel brand performance 2006 – 2011