Leisure travel booking is booming on the Internet, thanks to consumer acceptance and aggressive marketing campaigns by travel companies and hotels.
By 2003 Forrester Research is predicting that the Net booking explosion will produce $65.5 million of travel reservations, generating $29.5 billion in revenues.
?The rise in direct booking will force the rest of the travel industry on to the Internet,? commented James McQuivey, an analyst for Forrester.
Online consumers are becoming increasingly comfortable with making travel and holiday reservations on the Internet. By the end of 1997 27 per cent of all households in the US had purchased airline tickets on the Internet.
Forrester believes that the European travel market is now set to follow in the US?s footsteps. ?Europeans are more accustomed to booking vacations in packages, which will give travel companies even bigger opportunities to attract people online with special offers and so on,?said McQuivey.
The only reason that Europe has lagged behind the US in online travel is the lack of Internet penetration, maintains Forrester. ?As access catches up it will take off,? explained McQuivey.
Forrester maintains that one-stop shops, packaging everything from air flights and hotel reservations to car hire and theatre tickets, will attract more people online because of two key factors - choice and convenience.
As demand ramps up, travel companies are already shifting strategies from providing information to enabling direct booking. Cut price airline Easyjet switched to an online booking option this year and said it has been well received by customers. In addition to creating a new revenue stream, online booking enables companies to reduce administration costs and in some cases cut out middle men.
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