Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Perspective again please

Plenty and rather mixed coverage around the web today regarding the second anniversary edition of the Hitwise-IMRG Hotshops list.

The quarterly report of the top 50 UK online retailers is a handy benchmark of whose flying or dying in the online world, albeit from a share of overall web traffic rather than individual performance.

So what did the May 2008 report reveal, compared to that of May 2006?

There are currently eleven travel brands amongst the top 50 – a list topped unsurprisingly every quarter since it began by Amazon.co.uk.

TravelMole led with how Thomson Holidays is creeping up on easyJet as the most popular travel brand in the UK, while E-Tid said ‘Travel companies lose web presence’. [both require registration]

The report indicated that almost all the leading travel brands – with the exception of Thomson – had seen in a decline in position since the report began two years ago:

EasyJet – 8 to 10
Expedia – 7 to 12
Ryanair – 9 to 14
Lastminute.com – 12 to 17
BA – 11 to 19
Thomas Cook – 18 to 25
First Choice – 20 to 29

Quite a number of travel brands have dropped off the list:

MyTravel (for obvious reasons)
InterContinental Hotels
Monarch Airlines

The only newcomer in travel:


The apparent slump in the performance of travel websites led the Financial Times to headline with ‘Airlines lose web customers’. Lose?

What the FT failed to do is explain in detail why this has happened.

A call to Hitwise’s Robin Goad, co-author of the list, confirms the obvious: travel was an early adopter of e-commerce and consumers, likewise, felt comfortable with booking via the web, thus why so travel sites commanded a large share of the top 50.

In the past two years, however, other retailers have emerged – some traditional offliners, others created to service existing markets but purely online – and have attracted new users.

So while growth in online travel bookings may be slowing compared to other industry verticals, it is by no means declining.

Kevin May, editor, Travolution

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