Patronage of some of Australia’s most popular travel and tourism websites has declined over the past two years, according the results of a survey into travel websites and their popularity with Australians aged over 14.
Another trend to emerge from the research: cross-visitation between sites is very high.
The rise of digital technology has transformed the travel and tourism industry to the point where cyberspace is practically a destination in its own right, complete with must-see attractions such as travel blogs, booking aggregator sites, user-review sites, the online offerings of airlines and traditional bricks-and-mortar travel agents, and more.
Latest findings from Roy Morgan Research reveal which travel websites are most popular with Australians aged over 14.
The winner, not unsurprisingly, is Australia’s biggest and oldest airline, Qantas. In the 12 months to March 2016, 13.7% of the population (or 2.7 million people) visited the Qantas website in an average four weeks, making it Australia’s most visited travel website – well ahead of Booking.com and Jetstar’s website, each of which attracts 9.7% of the population (1.9 million people) per four weeks.
Rounding out the top five are Virgin Australia’s website (9.6%) and Tripadvisor (8.8%).
Besides the airlines and the Flight Centre website, the Top 15 travel websites are dominated by online-only businesses: mainly booking sites, but also News Corp-owned news.com.au/travel (5.3%) and Fairfax-owned Traveller.com.au (3.8%).
Surprisingly, some of the sites in the Top 15 have seen a decline in visitation since 2014, most notably Qantas (down from 15.2%), Virgin (down from 10.6%) and wotif.com (down from 7.5%).
So are the website visitors going to user-review site Trip Advisor instead? It’s a possibility. Trip Advisor’s visitation is the most improved by far, increasing its average four-weekly visitation by almost 45% (from 6.1% to 8.8%), while Booking.com inched up from 9.0% to 9.7%.
Commenting on the findings, Roy Morgan Research’s industry communications director, Norman Morris, noted that travel and tourism websites have become an integral part of many Australians’ holiday-planning and booking process.
“With a click of the mouse, it’s possible to book flights, accommodation and travel insurance, read other travellers’ reviews of hotels and tourist attractions, read up on destinations and a whole lot more, Morris said.
“But while the country’s busiest travel websites attract millions of visitors per year, our findings also reveal a very high rate of cross-visitation across all of the websites we measure. Take the two most popular non-airline sites, Booking.com and TripAdvisor, for example: 37.2% of Aussies who visit Tripadvisor in an average four weeks also visit Booking.com, and 33.6% of Booking.com users also visit Tripadvisor.
“This makes sense: TripAdvisor’s user reviews are a valuable resource for people considering their accommodation options on Booking.com, often providing information not included (sometimes for good reason!) in hotels’ official online blurbs. Mind you, Booking.com also features user reviews, so in theory, its visitors needn’t look elsewhere…
“So what can travel websites do to achieve a greater degree of ‘stickiness’ among their users and discourage them from being distracted by the competition? With Roy Morgan’s Holiday Tracker, they can discover not only which other websites their visitors are most likely to visit while planning/researching a holiday, but also gain an in-depth understanding of their demographics, holiday attitudes, and destination preference – thereby enabling them to ensure their web content ticks all the boxes.”
Visitation figures, in order, as shown on graph, are: Qantas 13.7%, Booking.com 9.7%, Jetstar 9.7%, Virgin Australia 9.6%, Tripadvisor 8.8%.Webjet 6.2%, Wotif 5.6%, Flight Centre 5.5%, news.com.au/travel 5.3%, Expedia 4.9%, Airbnb 3.9%, Traveller 3.8%, Hotels.com 3.3%, Stayz 3.2%, Lastminute 3.2%.
Edited by Peter Needham