By Martin Kelly, Editor, Travel Trends

Search Engines are the most important source of traffic for travel websites, Michael Walmsley from Hitwise told TRAVELtech delegates.

He said they accounted to one in three visits, though anecdotal evidence suggests that for many sites this is a very conservative estimate.

His data also demonstrated the importance of having strong organic listings presence in light of sharply rising paid search costs.

For example, Hitwise estimates that Wotif is getting 90% of its traffic through organic search, while just 10% of traffic was paid for.

This ratio could easily be inverted for less mature sites.

In other news, Hitwise says travel has 2.54% of total online market share. Search Engines biggest slice at 12.58%, news and media 6.1%, net communities 7.1%.

The Australian travel figure is on par with most major markets, though in the UK travel share more than double at just under 6%. Could it be something to do with the weather?

In the Destination and Accommodation category, Wotif maintained its big market share lead at 6.5% over Total Travel at 4.13%.

The other big brands in this sector – HotelClub, Stay, Rates To Go and Travelmate were generally between 1% and 2%.

On the agency side, Webjet and Flight Centre battled it out for market leadership (both around 12%). Their nearest rival, lastminute, was around 5%. Walmsley noted a marginal increase in Expeida’s share.

Qantas and Virgin Blue dominated the airline category with Jetstar third. Tiger is starting to gain traction but still a long, long way behind in terms of visits. Singapore Airlines was the best of the international carriers. big leader in the Maps category with 41.5% share. Google Maps gaining, now at 15%.

Web communities had the biggest gains in overall online market share over the past two years.

They were up 52% followed by Search Engines – +42%. Adult sites lost ground, market share down 34%.

Travel Trends: September 3, 2008

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