GDS suppliers and travel agents could soon be developing their online travel technology, as a new reveals the importance of web search in booking holidays.
The joint study from search engine Google and analystics firm comScore found that the internet was now the runaway leader in holiday planning, with customers showing a willingness to compare brands and prices before diving in.
Some 20 million people in the UK used search engines for travel queries in the first quarter of 2007, claimed the study, while customers were often found to take a month between first search and purchase, employing many generic holiday search terms and adapting these keywords through their search.
Google UK industry leader, Robin Frewer, said: "This research proves travel searchers are becoming more brand fickle – spending a large amount of time researching their desired purchase, and considering offers from competing brands. The fact that users are using more generic search queries gives ample opportunity for brands to attract new customers – and brands that are not present during these searches are missing out on sales."
Bob Ivins, vice president of European markets at comScore, reiterated the possibilities unleashed by the web, adding that online search had become "a critical first step" for most holiday purchasers.