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Online shoppers opt for budget travel: study

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Online shoppers are favouring budget travel alternatives when it comes to travel purchases, according to a new study from Kantar Media Compete.

The Online Shopper Intelligence report found that while 90% of UK internet users are planning a holiday in 2012 - up from 82% in 2011 - many are looking to keep their budgets low. Some 49% of UK internet users, it found, visited the EasyJet site in the first quarter of 2012, while 54% visited Travelodge and 52% Premier Inn. By contrast, the Hilton and Marriott websites scored 10% each.

The study found that many holidaymakers book the different elements of their trip separately, rather than through an online travel agent – citing cost as the reason. Thus 65% of people travelling by plane buy their tickets from the airline, compared to 31% using an online travel agent. Some 28% of hotel visitors arrange accommodation directly.

But although many book directly with providers, most research their buys through online travel agents. Behavioural data from the Kantar Media Compete report found that 72% of people going abroad and 50% of those travelling in the UK in April used sites such as Booking.com and Expedia in the early stages of their research. Those who chose to make their bookings direct did so for price, but also for the speed, choice, accuracy and ease of booking and making later changes.

Some 41% of people taking a holiday in 2012 were going to Western Europe, while 19% opted for central and eastern Europe, but 62% of consumers were planning to travel within the UK, thanks to the Jubilee, Olympics and Paralympics.

John Thekanady, client services director at Kantar Media Compete, said: “One issue clearly flagged up by the report is that online travel agents (OTAs) would benefit from taking a closer look at the needs of their audience and how they can meet them.

“This is particularly pertinent in view of the high reach of EasyJet that, with hire cars, hotels and package breaks is fulfilling the role of an OTA. The findings also indicate that there are untapped opportunities online for bus and rail companies. They could boost their digital sales significantly by improving their online marketing and distribution channels – particularly as the price of petrol continues to rise.”

The full Online Shopper Intelligence report can be downloaded from: www.kantarmedia.compete.com.

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