OTA traffic graph to July 2011The fight for market share among Online Travel Agents is well and truly on with traffic to the sector falling -4% in the 12 months to the end of July, according to Nielsen NetRatings. Director of Digital Insights, Mark Higginson, said OTAs were the worst performed travel sub-sector. He said cruise grew fastest off a  low base, airlines were up 7%, while hotels grew 5%, which may possibly indicate they are taking share from OTAs. Overall, Higginson said the travel sector grew 7%.

Qantas is still the leading online travel brand with an average of more than 2m unique visitors each month, followed by Virgin, Wotif.com, TripAdvisor and Jetstar. TripAdvisor grew 15%, according to Nielsen Netview, while unique visitor numbers to Wiotif.com fell 10%. Higginson said TotalTravel, owned by Yahoo!7, has bounced back after visitations were heavily hit by a site relaunch in mid-2010 with a 38% increase in unique traffic over the past year.

Advertising is having a major impact on TotalTravel’s traffic growth with a close correlation between the number of visits and the amount of marketing activity. OTA Best Flights, which acts as the TotalTravel.com booking engine, has also seen a corresponding visitor boost.

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