Though supplier website usage in the U.S. has gained momentum, more online travelers* still use online travel agencies than buy direct, according to the latest consumer survey results from PhoCusWright Inc.

But channel usage varies depending on the type of traveler, the destination, and the products being purchased. Online buyers have formed definite allegiances to certain types of Web sites when purchasing different leisure travel components.

These findings and others are now published in a new research report from PhoCusWright Inc., The PhoCusWright Consumer Travel Trends Survey Eighth Edition.

For example, consumers are much more likely to use an intermediary for combination purchases** than supplier sites - three in 10 travelers who typically buy travel online use an online travel agency for these products, compared to one in 10 who use a supplier site. They're also more likely to use an online travel agency to purchase add-ons such as sightseeing tours and event tickets. Their behavior changes, however, when making individual air and hotel purchases. When purchasing these individual components, they often rely more on supplier Web sites than online travel agencies. Among online travelers who usually buy travel online, supplier Web sites are the top choice for their online hotel and car rental purchases. This suggests that online buyers still use multiple Web sites for individual components.

Other Findings

Suppliers Offer More Luxury. Those online travelers purchasing direct from suppliers (either online or offline) are significantly more likely to stay at luxury accommodations than are online travel agency purchasers (39% vs. 30%).

International Travelers Still, Slightly, Prefer the Phone. While the Internet is actively being used for domestic and international travel, offline channels remain the most popular means for international purchases. In fact, more than four in 10 online travelers usually purchase it offline, versus the one third who usually purchase international travel online.

Airline Travelers Mostly Likely to Switch. Because air is perceived as a commodity purchase, online travelers are easily swayed by lower prices to purchase directly from an airline. This "switching" occurs at a rate (55%) almost double that of other components such as hotels (31%) and car rental companies (24%).

Enough About Value, Where's The Lowest Price? The number one reason why online travel shoppers switch sites is still, overwhelmingly, price. Half of all online shoppers (51%) switched to an alternative method when purchasing travel for this reason. The next two most influential forces, convenience and selection, were each at less than 10%.

*Online travelers were identified through successive waves of ICR's EXCEL Omnibus in September 2005. Online travelers are U.S. adults who have taken a commercial air trip in the past year, stayed at a hotel in the past year AND used the Internet in the past 30 days.

**Combination purchasers are those purchasing more than two components (air, and/or car and/or hotel) for the same trip in a single purchase.

Related Link: PhoCusWright, Inc.