Europeans still booking travel online

This year, the online travel business in Europe is expected to creep higher this year. Travel research firm PhoCusWright forecasts that online bookings will edge up to 0.6 percent this year in its latest report. Yet, this outperforms the hell out of the broader European travel market, which is expected to be down 10 percent in 2009.

Carol Rheem, director, research at PhoCusWright, says, “As Europeans seek to make the most of their treasured time off this year, they are increasingly using online options to plan the best holiday for their budget.” She continues, “Online travel agencies are weathering this economic storm better than any other booking channel.”

Though there’s still room for some sort of surprise by the end of the year (not likely), the European online travel space is expected to see gross bookings of €23 billion when we close the book on 2009, with supplier websites lagging online travel agencies.

“Even in the bleak travel backdrop of 2009, some travel companies are thriving — and not all of them are OTAs [online travel agencies]. Countercyclical trends bolster these companies while exacerbating decline for others. Those dependent on business travelers are among the hardest hit,” Rheem observes. Business travel is expected to be off 17 percent for the year.