Travel Surfing Up

Travelers are hitting the Web in droves, searching for special deals and fares for one last summer escape, measurement research indicates. Nielsen//NetRatings reports that traffic to airline sites jumped 15 percent during the week ending August 4 at work, and volume was further compounded when Spirit Airlines announced plans to offer 13,000 free seats on 9/11.

“As the summer travel season winds down, surfers planning a final vacation getaway in August are shopping online for the latest bargains and deals,” said Lisa Strand, director and chief analyst, Nielsen//NetRatings. “Online travel continues to be a strong e-commerce category, despite the difficult climate this past year.”

Top 5 Airline Brands, Week Ending August 4 (U.S., Work)
Brand 7/28 Unique Audience 8/4 Unique Audience Growth
JetBlue Airways 211,000 362,000 72%
American Airlines 778,000 1,026,000 32%
Continental Airlines 388,000 509,000 31%
United Airlines 651,000 782,000 20%
Southwest Airlines 979,000 1,145,000 17%
Source: Nielsen//NetRatings, August 2002

Spirit Airlines recorded more than one million visitors to the Web site, along with thousands of e-mail messages and phone calls, from travelers hoping to secure one of the free seats meant to encourage air travel on September 11, 2002.

Traffic among travel-related Web sites has grown consistently over the last three months. Measurements from comScore Media Metrix ranked travel among the top U.S. categories that showed significant growth in combined home and work usage from May to June 2002. The findings indicated a 15 percent increase in traffic to travel information sites; another 15 percent spike to hotel and resort sites; and a 13 percent increase to travel sites overall. Furthermore, when Nielsen//NetRatings compared the top online advertisers from May 2001 to May 2002, the travel industry had soared 304 percent.

Bolstering the online travel sector are predictions from Bear Stearns that hotel room Web bookings will rise from the estimated $3.8 billion in 2000 to $15.5 billion in 2006.

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