Online travel sites report decline in traffic

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Car Rental News - 04/12/2008


The public is flying less in the current economy and spending less time scouting deals on Internet travel sites.

In typical years, travelers begin planning their winter holidays in October, meaning that it is one of the busiest months for Internet travel website, according to industry analysts.

This isn’t turning out to be a typical year, however. Consumer confidence reached record lows during October, and visitor traffic to travel websites dropped by 14 percent, down from last year to 38.2 million visits. ComScore Inc., the source of the data, reported that most every major airline website saw significant decreases in traffic as well.

The three online travel powerhouses were the hardest hit of all. Normally dominating online bookings, web traffic at Expedia was down by 25 percent, Travelocity by 16 percent and Orbitz by 23 percent for the month.

This drop in visitor traffic is unprecedented for these online companies, which have seen growth through past economic slowdowns – including the post September 11 period when consumers turned to the Internet for travel bargains for the first time.

"The economy and industry outlook for the fourth quarter has deteriorated markedly over the past six weeks," noted Orbitz president and chief executive, Steven Barnhart.

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