The future for traditional travel agents does not look bright, as online bookings continue to grow.
Nearly one third of Internet users who visit travel related Web sites have made online reservations using those sites, according to a study by NPD Online Research.
This year so far 31 per cent of individuals who visited airline sites booked their reservations on the Web, compared to only 21 per cent in 1998. Car rental bookings have also gone up from 19 per cent last year to 28 per cent this year.
NPD found that Internet travel bookers were more satisfied with their online experience than those Internet users who use the Web to only check travel prices and travel availability. A staggering 89 per cent of those who actually reserved airline reservations online reported either being "extremely" or "somewhat" satisfied with their transaction.
"Our data supports expectations for continued growth in travel bookings online," confirmed Allan Baldinger, a vice president for NPD Online Research. "We have found that the more time a consumer spends online, the more likely they are to purchase online.”
The study found that concerns about using credit cards online had dropped dramatically amongst experienced Internet users. “For those Internet travelers who browse Web sites, it is just a matter of time before they change from lookers to bookers,” commented Baldinger.
A hard cord of “heavy bookers” amongst Internet travel buyers is also beginning to emerge, according to NPD. They tend to be frequent travellers for business or pleasure who are “Net Vets” with over two years of online experience behind them.
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