The number of consumers using the Internet to make travel plans has been almost cut in half, according to the US Conference Board's Consumer Internet Barometer.

Only 28 percent of all men and 25 percent of surveyed women plan to research airline rates and availability online over the next three months, compared to 41 percent of all men and 35 percent of women in 2004. More men are using the Internet to make travel arrangements, with more consumers going online to research travel options and opportunities than to actually book trips.

"Vacation plans may have fallen victim to higher gas prices, rising travel costs and an increasingly uncertain economic outlook," says Lynn Franco, Director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center. "The latest consumer confidence survey shows consumers' vacation intentions are at a two-year low and this slowing in the rate of travel-related activity online only adds to overall concerns."

Three other major findings from the latest Consumer Internet Barometer:

- The top online travel searches are for driving instructions, with weather and temperature patterns and lodging information next.

- Some 19 percent of surveyed men and 15 percent of women say they will book airline tickets online during the next three months. About 17 percent of the men and 14 percent of the women plan to book motels, hotels and other lodging. "The nature of business travel, which is still dominated by men (68 percent of the total), may require men to have more need and more familiarity to research and purchase airline tickets online," explains Ruth Sharp, Vice President of Analytic Services at TNS.

- About 10 percent of all consumer travel arrangements are influenced by promotional emails from airlines, hotels and travel websites.

Satisfaction Runs High, and Email Promotions Can Make a Difference

Among those using the Internet to make travel arrangements, satisfaction levels are high. More than 95 percent are "extremely" or "somewhat" satisfied with their ability to get general destination information online; more than 94 percent are "extremely" or "somewhat" satisfied with their ability to make flight arrangements online; nearly 93 percent express those same levels of satisfaction about making lodging arrangements; and nearly 91 percent are "extremely" or "somewhat" satisfied about their ability to rent a car online. Eighty-nine percent of respondents said they were "extremely" or "somewhat" satisfied with their ability to make entertainment arrangements online.

Promotional emails are used most effectively by airlines and register more success among men than women. Some 66 percent of men versus 59 percent of women say these promotional messages have influenced their travel within the past six months. Hotels making use of email promotions were more likely to entice women (38 percent) than men (28 percent). Travel websites also fared better with women than men - 45 percent versus 31 percent, respectively.