An online Logan Tod study, carried out by YouGov, confirms British adults have moved their travel research and bookings online, with 40% of respondents failing to visit a travel agent in the last two years. But the results also indicate a strong need for online travel sites to optimise the customer experience to secure online travel bookings.

The study reveals that 31% of online British adults plan to conduct all of their holiday planning, including bookings, online next year. A further 36% plan to conduct most of their planning online, while only 4% will avoid the internet for travel purposes in 2008.

?Our research found people are using the internet when booking holidays because of its easier and quicker nature; the ability to find better prices online; and the fact an online travel agent is open at all hours,? says Matthew Tod, CEO of Logan Tod & Co. ?But with so many people already using the internet when planning their holidays, online travel companies can no longer rely on market growth to fuel sales. The market is about to become far more competitive.?

While 76% of holiday planning Brits use the internet to research their destinations, only 66% use it to book flights and accommodation. These sales rates could be improved if websites enhance their design and navigation to become more user-friendly.

The study also shows that online Brits place far greater trust in friends, family and fellow travellers through online reviews than they do in travel agents, books or newspapers when seeking travel advice. However, the need for travel agents should not be underestimated as 46% of online respondents still visit travel agents to collect destination brochures which will impact on online travel decisions.

?By placing greater trust in friends, family and online reviews from fellow travelers, people are removing control from travel operators when obtaining advice. Travel agents and operators need to invest in websites that make the planning and booking process as quick and simple as possible to use customer generated content to build trust,? advises Matthew Tod.

Supporting statistics:

- 66% use the internet to book flight and/or accommodation

- Top reasons for booking online are: easier and quicker process (84%); better prices (82%); and 24 hour availability (76%)

- 70% trust advice from friends and family when booking online;

- 47% trust online reviews from travelers;

- only 22% trust advice from travel agents or holiday companies