A new study suggests that the websites operated by “traditional” travel agents are almost as widely visited as online travel agents.

The report from Expedia Inc‘s dedicated advertising unit, Expedia Media Solutions (EMS), looked at the browsing habits of UK travellers

EMS  has looked at what UK consumers got up to in the 45 days before the bought  a “vacation package” online at the following ten sites:

Expedia First Choice Thomson Thomas Cook Opodo eDreams TravelRepublic eBookers Lastminute.com Co-Operative Travel

To be included in the results, the holidaymaker also had to visit a destination marketing organisation’s website during that time-frame.

The document concludes with a page of “key findings for destination marketers” which gives us an idea of the commercial impetus behind the research.

The key take-away is that UK holidaymakers make 35 visits to travel sites in the 45 days before booking and that activity ramps up closer to the date of parting with money to secure a product.


However, when these visits are broken down to identify what sort of travel sites are visited, the results might come as a surprise.

Online travel agents top the charts with 28% of all visits, only a byte or so ahead of traditional travel sites which pick up 27%.

Traditional agents’ sites get a bigger share than “planning and review sites” at 19%.


The reason for the similar density of visits to online travel agents and traditionals could be that someone wanting to book a package holiday would think about a package holiday specialist.

It could be that the traditional agents are getting better at digital marketing. It could be that by partnering with planning and review sites, traditional agents are becoming “sticky” (why check out the hotel on TripAdvisor if I can read the TripAdvisor reviews here?)

For a comparison, here is how travel shapes up against other retail sectors:


Tnooz reported on a similar study last year looking at how US consumers behaved. It is now possible to compare and contrast the two nations’ behaviours.

We now know that:

planning and review sites play a stronger role in the UK than in the US throughout the entire path to purchase in the 45 days leading up to a package booking, UK consumers visited non-travel sites more frequently than their U.S. counterparts

The report, including findings from the US, is available online.

NB: Holiday button image via Shutterstock.

Original author: Martin Cowen