Travel companies have been given a clear indication that “community websites” are one of next major growth areas for online operations.
Figures unveiled this week by internet research company Nielsen//NetRatings revealed the likes of Friends Reunited, Blogger, Bebo and MySpace regularly brought in at least 1.3 million unique users month.
The figures will warm the hearts of those in the travel industry pushing for more of a community feel to their websites, such as adding customer reviews, blogging facilities, consumer advice centres and photo scrapbooks.
A number of online travel companies have said one of the next major challenges as the market becomes even more competitive will be to establish stronger brand identities and use functionality within their sites that will keep users informed, entertained and loyal.
European internet analyst at Nielsen NetRatings, Alex Burmaster, said: “Whilst most of the talk about the future of the web revolves around which of the giant media companies will win the battle to enable people to watch TV through the Internet, a revolution of more immediate substance is already underway.
“The popularity of social networking and community sites in the UK are growing day by day – particularly amongst the young who, after all, will be responsible for the future of the Internet.
“The future of online to the young is about what the Internet is best at – communicating and interacting – not watching TV.”
As a group, community websites created 1.78 billion page impressions during December 2005.
In terms of the most popular websites by the number of pages viewed per person, Faceparty, MySpace and Ebay took the top three places in the UK, with 709, 392 and 298 pages respectively.