Online activity shows growing travel recovery: Travel Weekly

Despite headwinds caused by Covid variants, the war in Ukraine and high fuel prices, traffic to travel websites remains on the upswing and points to strong business in the coming months across multiple sectors.

According to Similarweb’s 2022 Travel Industry Insights Report, traffic since January to top domains in the car rental, hotel and vacation rental sectors has been at or above levels seen in those months during 2019. As of March, the top cruise domains are also on par with 2019 levels and airline sites are nearly there, while traffic to online travel agency and metasearch sites is still down.

“We are still seeing a lot of growth and a lot of optimism for the summer of 2022,” said Alisha Kapur, Similarweb’s senior manager for travel and e-commerce. “It will be significantly busier than the past two summers … levels that at least rival 2019 bookings and traffic, if they don’t exceed them.”

And, states the report, “Looking at the remainder of 2022 and beyond, the positive momentum in travel should continue at an accelerated pace.”

Low-cost carriers lead the way

Since air travel is generally booked far in advance, Similarweb cites airline website traffic as a “good proxy for demand” in that sector. 

From the early days of the pandemic in April 2020 through February 2022, traffic to airline websites on mobile and desktop has increased 181%, with low-cost carriers including Ryanair, EasyJet and Southwest capturing the most visitors.

“For EasyJet, we are actually seeing that they have had the highest conversions that they’ve had all pandemic over the past month or so,” Kapur says. “What that implies to me is that you are seeing the budget traveler is really coming forward and has been throughout the pandemic … and the providers who offer options that are a bit more affordable are seeing that pickup.”

For airlines based in the U.S., American Airlines, Alaska, Southwest and United all had higher conversions in March 2022 compared to April 2019, on average 18% higher, “signaling strong renewed confidence in the industry,” Kapur says.

Traffic is way up for Airbnb and Vrbo

For accommodations, Similarweb data shows monthly traffic up 200% and 330%, respectively, for Airbnb and Vrbo between April 2020 and February 2022, and the report states “this trend and secular shift to vacation home rentals is expected to continue in 2022 and beyond.”

Kapur notes that while Airbnb is still in the lead, Vrbo is growing its market share, maintaining positive year-over-year growth in traffic throughout 2021 and continuing to get a boost from marketing spending coming from parent company Expedia Group. 

Similarweb says Vrbo’s pay-per-click (PPC) advertising jumped to $3 million in February, more than double its spend in December 2021.

“Expedia Group is spending the most in the United States of any entity, much more than Booking Holdings, more PPC spend … so I think there is a huge focus for Expedia Group to push Vrbo and to grow Vrbo and pandemic conditions have made it so that is very possible. Going forward I think it will be a much more competitive space than it ever was. And it’s not just Airbnb and Vrbo … in general the space is becoming much more competitive than it ever was,” Kapur said.

Meanwhile, Airbnb is notable for its marketing efficiency as it receives the majority of its traffic directly or organically — more than 88% of its traffic in March — thanks to the brand’s strong awareness and penetration among consumers in most markets. 

And Airbnb takes the lead in converted visits, according to Similarweb, reaching 1.5 million in February compared to 355,000 for Vrbo and more than hotel competitor (1.3 million) and (1 million).

Similarweb is a digital intelligence platform that analyzes data extracted through direct measurement, its contributory network, partnerships and public sources.

Source: PhocusWire

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