For anyone in the lodging business, it won?t come as a surprise that consumers crave researching and purchasing travel online. The online revolution has been afoot for some time now, but the ballyhoo surrounding the so-called Web 2.0 is changing everything. From the dynamic of how consumers interact with the internet while making travel purchase decisions to the way hospitality professionals must market their products.

Today?s leaders in online travel sales may be tomorrow?s also-rans, while emerging sites have the potential to dominate the landscape. Already travel is the monster force in electronic commerce. In fact according to Terry Jones, the founder and former CEO of Travelocity, it?s larger than the next four categories of electronic commerce combined. That?s some serious numbers.

According to eMarketer, online consumer travel sales hit $79 billion in 2006 and will grow at a 17 percent annual rate before reaching $146 billion in 2010. From 2002 - 2006 annual growth rate averaged 28 percent. Thirty seven million households booked travel online last year and by 2010 its expected 51.1 million households will book travel online.

?The internet changed how travel product was priced and distributed, and distribution costs [changed too],? said Jones. ?People will take chances on other brands because they can search and see themselves.?

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