Things are going from bad to worse at retail travel group Helloworld, which today announced its revenue has been hit by agency defections. Now exclusive figures from Experian Hitwise show Helloworld’s website traffic has collapsed following its controversial decision to shut popular and profitable Bestflights.com.au on February 1.

Replacement site Helloworld.com.au now gets less than 30% of the traffic that Bestflights.com.au once did, while its traffic has been in slow decline since March.

Chart - Helloworld v BestFlights visitor numbers May 2014

Experian Hitwise says Bestflights.com.au traffic peaked last September with 878,197 visits.

The best month for Helloworld.com.au was this March when it had 242,594 visits – just 27% of the Bestflights.com.au peak.

The figures look even worse when Bestcruises.com.au, which was also closed on February 1, is also factored in.

Bestcruises.com.au was getting around 100,00 visits a month at that time.

Direct traffic from both these sites are being channelled to Helloworld.com.au.

Helloworld’s search engine visibility has also been hit hard, as this chart showing search share demonstrates.

Chart - Helloworld v BestFlights search clicks to May 2014

There’s little question this is as a result of losing important organic search benefits they used to enjoy with the former domains names (i.e. Best Flights and Best Cruises).

These revelations follow an announcement today by Helloworld that it has switched tack on retiring a number of its key travel brands following resistance from stakeholders.

CEO Elizabeth Gaines said the Harvey World Travel, Jetset Travel, Travelscene and Travelworld brands, which were supposed to be scrapped, will remain operating across 100 locations.

It is a huge about face.

Ms Gaines also said many agencies have left its network following since December with location numbers down 7% since December.

This will hit pre-tax profit by between $5 million and $10 million, she said.

But “this reduction is expected to be partly mitigated by growth in online trading through Helloworld.com.au”.

Really? The numbers above surely show that when Bestflights.com.au is factored in the reverse may well be true.

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