RealTime IT News

Travel Sector on the Rebound?

Online travel sites continue to roll out business initiatives, as witness Expedia's new ski vacation section, while traffic to travel Web sites rebounded for the week ending Sept. 30, with audience levels surpassing pre-crisis measurements.

Bellevue, Wash.-based Expedia.com , its stock up to the $30 range after sinking to a low near $19 after the events of Sept. 11, today launched Expedia Ski Vacations, offering vacation planners everything from hotels and lodges to condos and townhouses, lift tickets, equipment rentals and the latest snow reports.

Nielsen//NetRatings, meanwhile, said that its figures show Delta Airlines, United Airlines, Hotwire, Expedia and American Airlines Web sites each posted sizable gains the week ending Sept. 30.

Delta Airlines claimed the largest gain in audience share for that week, as compared to the week ending Sept. 9. The site surged 32 percent and attracted 627,000 unique visitors. United Airlines grew 30 percent to 474,000 surfers, while Hotwire jumped 11 percent, capturing 444,000 unique visitors. Expedia jumped seven percent, drawing nearly 1.8 million unique visitors. Rounding out the list, American Airlines grew five percent to 595,000 surfers.

"...consumer interest in travel has begun to rebound from the turmoil surrounding recent national events," said Sean Kaldor, vice president, analytical services, at Web measurement firm NetRatings. "Discounted fares and heightened promotions are enticing surfers to continue to use the Internet to plan and book travel arrangements."

Expedia, meanwhile, said that by letting visitors customize their ski trips, vacationers "generally save more than they would purchasing each component of their trip separately."

"We're providing travelers with all the travel choices and information they need to plan a winter getaway, from transportation and lodging to gear rentals and lift tickets," said Erik Blachford, senior vice president of marketing and programming at Expedia, Inc.

Still, it's clear that not every travel site is recovering quite so rapidly. Fort Worth, Texas-based Travelocity , said late last week it would lay off 320 employees and cut back on advertising to counter a decline in bookings caused by the air travel slowdown after the events of Sept. 11.

The company said airline ticket sales volumes were at 70 percent of expected levels, but are steadily rising as travelers booked trips for later into the year. Also last week, Goldman Sachs raised its 2001 earnings estimate on Priceline.com as airline travel began to recuperate.