The online travel market is divided into two segments: leisure/unmanaged business travel and managed business travel (also known as corporate travel). The online booking behavior of unmanaged business travelers is indistinguishable from leisure travelers. Employees of the millions of small- and medium-sized corporations in the U.S. use the same websites as leisure travelers to book their business travel. Thus these two groups of buyers are treated as one customer segment.

eMarketer estimates that U.S. online sales of leisure and unmanaged business travel reached a total of $65 billion last year that the total will grow to $122 billion by 2009, a near doubling of the market in just four years. eMarketer's forecast takes into account macroeconomic indicators, historical trends in online travel sales and historical and projected trends in overall retail ecommerce.

Estimates of online travel spending in the U.S. are bound to vary from source to source, given the differences in how the market is defined. The estimates from comScore and PhoCusWright are for both leisure and unmanaged business travel sales, the same definition used by eMarketer. The 2005 estimates from these three firms are close, falling within $4.5 billion. Forrester's estimate for 2005 would be higher if it included unmanaged business travel sales. Conversely, Jupiter's estimate, which appears to include managed business travel sales, would obviously be lower if these sales were excluded. Where all the research firms agree is in their estimates that annual sales growth was around 20 percent in 2004 and 2005, and that it will drop off into the teens during 2006 and 2007.

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