¨The internet is becoming the town square for the village of tomorrow¨
Until the late 1990s, planning a holiday usually involved a visit to the local travel agent, consulting a well-used guidebook, or relying on friends’ word-of-mouth recommendations.
Today, thanks to smartphone apps and high-speed internet, travelers:
- Book their flights, tours, activities, restaurants, and hotels online;
- Reserve stays in someone else’s home;
- Use apps to book taxis; and
- Search online reviews to select restaurants, tours, and attractions.
The travel industry adapted to online sales more quickly and efficiently than most other industries. The first on-line hotel and airline bookings occured in the early 1990s. At least five years before most other retailers.
The travel industry is also particularly well suited to the internet. Unlike buying a dress, consumers do not feel like they have to be in a store to try on a product before purchase. Plus, computerized travel bookings (made through travel agents) existed for several years before the internet became commonplace. (The transition to online booking was relatively easy technologically).
Today, unlike most other retail industries, the majority of hotels, airlines, and car rentals purchases are made on-line. The total value of travel bookings made online in 2012 was over $500 billion. There has been a 12% increase in the volume of online travel bookings annually for over a decade.