RealTime IT News

Report: Orbitz Is Wooing Lookers

Orbitz, the new travel site backed by five major airlines, has done a nice job of attracting lookers in its first week or so of operations, and already is a player in the online travel game, according to a new report.

But the site has done less well at converting lookers into bookers, according to an assessment issued by Boston-based competitive intelligence service Compete Inc., which says that Orbitz outdrew Travelocity.com by 300,000 visitors in its first week.

However, Compete said that less than 1 percent of the visitors to Orbitz made a reservation in its first week. By comparison, Travelocity converted 4.3 percent and Expedia.com converted 1.9 percent of their respective visitors.

Orbitz itself said that traffic was huge, exceeding expectations, and even overwhelming the servers and call centers. A spokeswoman told InternetNews.com today that overall, Orbitz has been booking as many as 10,000 travel transactions per day with an approximate value of $2 million.

One reason for Orbitz's low conversion rate was that many users either didn't find the best fares or were simply comparing fares, Compete said. But given the notable number of Travelocity and Expedia visitors who tested Orbitz in its first week, "the door is open for Orbitz to threaten the industry leaders," Compete added.

"The Orbitz buzz created a tremendous sense of curiosity which drove people to the site, but the key question will be whether Orbitz can convert and retain customers," said Man Jit Singh, CEO of Compete. "If travelers find that this newcomer really does deliver the most options at the lowest prices, then more lookers will become bookers."

"Travelocity and Expedia, on the other hand, must enhance their product and service offerings to assure their customers there's no reason to leave," he said. "The recent launches of Expedia Packages and Travelocity's new last-minute booking service show that they're taking these concerns seriously."

Between June 4 and 10, 12 percent of Travelocity visitors and 9 percent of Expedia visitors tested Orbitz, Compete said. Moreover, 5.3 percent of recent Expedia customers and 4.2 percent of recent Travelocity customers visited Orbitz.

A sizable number of travel shoppers bounced between the various sites directly, indicating (perhaps not surprisingly )that many travelers comparison-shop for the best deals.

Compete specializes in online and analytical consulting services, licensing the clickstream data of more than 8 million Internet users in the United States.