Sunday, March 25, 2007

Either hotels and operators in Europe are still out to lunch on the Internet or the EC is

Guest Editor Post from Michael Potts of e-interactive

I noticed today that AFP put out an interesting press release on the back of the ITB 2007 Travel Fair held in Berlin earlier this month called “Internet becoming indispensable to European travel industry”. Related to the use of internet by European travel retailers, it mentions that the European Commission (no reference dates provided) has published data on the proportion of European travel suppliers and intermediaries providing the ability for customer to booking online.

According to the figures only 36% of tour operators provide online booking services, whilst 40% of package operators (the difference is subtle between these two, perhaps too subtle for the end consumer who wouldn’t notice a difference) and 62% of hotels allow booking online.

Only 36% of tour operators? Wow….! 38% of hotels don’t have a website? I’m in the right business it seems! I have tried to find the full version of this research and failed, however these numbers do feel incredibly low for a mature market.

Given that in the US, online travel revenue will exceed offline revenue in 2007 (PhoCusWright's U.S. Online Travel Overview, Sixth Edition, 2006), I would imagine that the percentage of suppliers and intermediaries providing online services is much higher. Is this a great opportunity for worldly wise 3rd party sellers and OTA’s like Expedia to offer a web development service for these 1000’s of hotels? And is this why so many of these 3rd parties are being allowed to advertise on European hotels brand names?

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