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 February 08, 2000

 52.2 Million Online Travelers Use Internet For Planning
16.5 Million Online Travelers Use Internet To Book Reservations

A new report released today by the Travel Industry Association of America (TIA) underscored the bond between travelers and the Internet. The report, Travelers' Use of the Internet, found that the number of online travelers has grown 190 percent from 29 million in 1996 to 85 million in 1999. The correlation between the online population and travel is so strong that almost all Internet users are also travelers with 93 percent of Internet users (91 million U.S. adults) responding that they took a least one trip of 100 miles or more, one-way, away from home in 1999. The report is based on a telephone survey conducted among a representative sample of 1,200 U.S. adults conducted in August 1999.

Online travel planning has surged in recent years, with 52.2 million online travelers using the Internet for this purpose in 1999, an increase of 54 percent from 1998. In fact, Internet travel planning has increased a
remarkable 1,500 percent since 1996. Online bookings have increased as well, with 32 percent of online travel planners making online reservations. This translates to 16.5 million online travelers, an increase of 146 percent from 1998. Nearly half (8.2 million) are frequent travelers, making 5 or more trips during the past year. Most travelers are satisfied with their online travel experience, with nearly one-half (45%) saying they would use the Internet more next year for travel planning or reservations.

"It's obvious from the increased use by American travelers that the Internet and online services have become a powerful part of the travel experience," remarked William S. Norman, president and CEO of the Travel Industry Association. "The convenience of the Internet and its 24-hour accessibility offer travelers flexible options for researching, planning or booking the travel product."

Highlights from the Report

- Internet usage is higher among travelers (53%) than all U.S. adults (45%). While pleasure travelers' Internet usage mirrors that of all travelers, business travelers are much more likely than total travelers to use the Internet (70% vs. 53%).

- When compared to all travelers, online travelers are more likely to be younger, have an annual household income above $75,000, be college-educated, and work in a professional/managerial occupation.

- Among online travelers (85 million), 62 percent consult the Internet to get information on destinations or to check prices or schedules.

- The most popular type of Internet sites for travel planning are search engine web sites such as Yahoo!, Excite or Lycos, which are used by most (62%) of online travel planners. Half of all online travel planners (51%) use destination sites for specific cities, states or countries. Nearly half (48%) use company sites such as airline, hotel, rental car or packaged tour sites. Commercial sites such as Microsoft Expedia, Travelocity, and are used by more than one-third (36%) of all Internet travel planners.

- While 52.2 million online travelers use the Internet to plan travel, only 16.5 million (32%) actually make travel reservations online. Online travel reservations include actually booking or paying for an airline ticket, hotel room, rental car or package tour. This is up from 6.7 million in 1998 and 5.4 million in 1997, representing a 206 percent increase over a two year period.

- Travelers who make reservations for travel products over the Internet can do so from a number of different types of sites. The most popular type of site used to book travel are company sites that sell directly from airlines, hotels, rental car or package tour companies. In fact, over one-half (51%) of travel bookers used such company sites. Another 39 percent book on commercial sites such as Microsoft Expedia, Travelocity or Nearly one-third (32%) of Internet travel bookers pay for or make their reservations on a search engine site such as Yahoo!, Excite or Lycos.

- Many travelers use the Internet to do their travel planning, but most are still hesitant to purchase their travel products online. In fact, 69 percent of online travelers "look" but don't "book" online, although the conversion rate is on the rise. Today it has grown to 31 percent from almost 20 percent in 1998.

- Security and customer service issues are the top reasons online travel planners do not book travel online. Other reasons for not making reservations on the Internet include: rather talk to a live person or need absolute confirmation, the Internet is too complicated or confusing, travel plans were not definite, someone else made the reservations, destination was already known, or felt the Internet didn't give the best deals.

- Of the 52.2 million online travelers who use the Internet for travel plans or reservations, 90 percent are either extremely satisfied or satisfied with their most recent experience. Eleven million (20%) online travelers are extremely satisfied with the last time they made travel plans or reservations on the Internet, much higher than the 1.2 million (2%) who are extremely disappointed with their last experience.

- Among the 85 million travelers who are online, 38 percent say they do not currently use the Internet for travel planning or booking. Yet many (51%) say that they are very or somewhat likely to start using the Internet next year to make travel plans or reservations.

TIA is the national, non-profit organization representing all components of the $541 billion travel industry. TIA's mission is to represent the whole of the U.S. travel industry to promote and facilitate increased travel to and within the United States.

Travel Industry Association of America
1100 New York Avenue, NW, Suite 450, Washington, DC 20005-3934
202-408-8422, Fax 202-408-1255