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Online travel market - statistics & facts

Most industries have become increasingly digitized over the last decade. The travel industry, in particular, has gone to great lengths to cultivate its online presence. The online travel industry is primarily made up of travel e-commerce sites and review sites. Travel e-commerce websites specialize in selling travel products such as flights, accommodation, and rental cars. These can be purchased directly through a travel company’s website or through an online travel agency (OTA). Meanwhile, travel review websites, such as Tripadvisor, allow travelers to post online their opinions on hotels, restaurants, and other hospitality experiences. These companies often generate revenue via advertisements on their sites.

The online travel agency market

In recent times, it has become more and more common for consumers to book trips themselves, particularly via OTAs. These online companies offer the comfort of booking from home and often entice consumers with package deals and price-saving options. As a result, many travelers have turned away from traditional brick-and-mortar travel agencies in favor of online alternatives to book their trips. As of 2021, two-thirds of revenue in the global travel and tourism market came from online sales channels. In that year, the online travel market size worldwide was roughly 433 billion U.S. dollars and it was forecast to reach approximately 691 billion U.S. dollars by 2026.

When looking at the leading companies in the OTA market, Booking Holdings and Expedia were the biggest online travel agencies by revenue worldwide in 2021, generating nearly 11 billion and 8.6 billion U.S. dollars, respectively. While both companies experienced a substantial increase in revenue over 2020, they did not catch up yet with pre-pandemic levels. Another online travel company that has grown exponentially over the past years is Airbnb, which provides a vacation rental online marketplace that primarily offers homestays. The gross booking value of Airbnb bookings worldwide peaked at around 47 billion U.S. dollars in 2021, bouncing back after the sharp drop recorded in the first year of the health crisis.

Online bookings

Using the web to discover new destinations, plan, or review trips has become an essential part of the online travel market. According to a global survey conducted in the fourth quarter of 2021, computers were by far the preferred channels for travelers to plan and book the next holiday. The same study showed that the share of consumers looking at websites for holiday inspiration varied significantly according to the country and generation. For instance, 27 percent of surveyed Canadian consumers aged between 30 and 44 claimed to use websites for that purpose, whereas 15 percent of respondents in Germany within the same age group did so. Meanwhile, when looking at the type of travel services booked on the internet, hotels topped the list of the most popular travel products booked online in the United States in 2022, followed by flight tickets and car rentals.

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