Consumers continue an upward trend of shopping for hotels online and booking electronically, according to TravelCLICK's consolidated third quarter eTRAK results, released today. The data shows the Internet contributed 40.0 percent, or 8,581,936 reservations, of the total Central Reservation Office (CRO) reservations at major hotel brands, a 24.8 percent increase compared to the same period in 2005.

The data also highlights the continuing importance of Global Distribution System (GDS) e-commerce with 34.7 percent, or 7,419,408 bookings, of CRO reservations coming through those channels. This is the second quarter that Internet reservations surpassed GDS reservations, or bookings made through the travel agent-focused Global Distribution System (GDS). The eTRAK report shows that voice represents the remaining 25.3 percent of CRO reservations, down 2.8 percent over the same time last year.

In the third quarter of 2006, brand websites grew again and continued to gain share compared to third-party merchant and opaque websites, which are increasingly used for hotel rate shopping prior to consumers booking direct on hotel websites. According to eTRAK, brand websites were the source of 81.2 percent of the brands' centrally booked Internet reservations.

eTRAK is a quarterly benchmarking report that enables individual hotels to track booking trends on the Internet and GDS through Central Reservations Office (CRO) performance. The consolidated results provide industry indications based on performance trends for 21 major hotel brands and chains.

Observations for the market based on this latest data include:

- Reservations through the CRO will continue to increase over the next several years, powered by a continued centralization of the distribution and revenue management functions.

- The voice channel will become more profitable. Call volume will continue to decline; however, consumers will be more informed from shopping the Internet, leading to an increased conversion rate.

- The GDS will continue to outperform expectations as this channel begins aggressively pursuing programs that build travel agent confidence, such as the 'Best Available Rate' programs recently introduced by some of the major GDS channels.

"A balanced approach will win the game," said TravelCLICK Senior Vice President of Product Management Scott Farrell. "Although channel shifts will continue to occur, hotels will lose business if they don't take advantage of the full distribution mix, including both high-growth and mature channels. Consumers will continue to shop multiple sources, and hotels must be prepared to convert business wherever it occurs."

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