TIA: Web travel purchases show 6% jump in 2004

The Internet has become as essential as a road map for consumers planning vacations and other trips. Of the 98 million travelers with access to the Internet, nearly 64 million use it for travel planning, according to the new Travelers Use of the Internet study conducted by the Travel Industry Association (TIA).

There was no growth in the number of people using the Web to plan trips, compared with 2003. But the number of online buyers has risen. Two-thirds of online planners, 45 million, booked online in 2004, a 6% increase from 2003.

The TIA said airline tickets were included in 82% of online travel purchases, up from 75% a year ago. A TIA spokeswoman attributed the increase to aggressive efforts by the airlines to encourage travelers to book tickets on the Web instead of other distribution channels.

The TIA said hotel stays were part of 67% of online travel purchases, while car/RV rentals were included in 40% of purchases.

The survey also found that e-mailed travel promotions are popular with online travel planners. Some 35 million travelers have signed up with a travel suppliers Web site or receive promotions and other related news by e-mail.

Some 11 million online travel planners have taken trips promoted via e-mail that they otherwise wouldnt have taken, the TIA said.

While e-mailed promotions are becoming more influential in determining or influencing travel purchases, the TIA survey found online travel planners also look to friends and family, travel agents, suppliers and travel guides for information and ideas.

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