Do Non-Transactional Websites Impact Bookings?

Non-transactional websites are a necessary stop for many online travel shoppers, influencing not only what travelers buy, but also where they buy it, according to a new study of online shopping and booking trends by PhoCusWright.

“Travelers who visit planning and review sites, metasearch or other types of non-transactional websites have a higher conversion rate than other visitors—but the trend only applies for suppliers,” according to PhoCusWright’s Online Traffic and Conversion Report, Second Edition.

PhoCusWright and Compete, Inc., partnered to measure and track the increasingly complex flow of Web traffic and bookings. PhoCusWright's Online Traffic and Conversion Report, Second Edition studies two critical online consumer-behavior metrics: traffic (monthly unique visitors) and conversion (the percentage of monthly unique visitors who complete a transaction).

Using these core metrics, the report analyzes major categories within the travel vertical, including both transactional and non-transactional sites. Individual products, such as air, hotel and car rental, are tracked to explore the dynamic between supplier sites and OTAs, as well as how non-transactional sites, such as deal publishers and review sites, affect conversion, PhoCusWright says.

“Air shoppers who visit both a non-transactional site and an airline supplier site convert at a much higher rate than other visitors. For example, airline website shoppers who also visit metasearch engines convert at 16 percent, while others convert at less than 10 percent. Those who visit non-transactional websites do not show any notable difference in conversion among OTA air shoppers.”

The difference in conversion rates is less dramatic with hotel products, yet the trend still holds, PhoCusWright research suggests.

“Supplier websites still have higher conversion rates among non-transactional site visitors whereas online travel agencies (OTAs) generally do not. In fact, non-transactional site visitors often convert at a lower level on OTAs than other visitors,” according to PhoCusWright.

“The benefit of advertising on non-transactional websites may be stronger for suppliers than for OTAs, but value still exists for OTAs due to the substantial audience visiting these informational categories. Nearly a quarter of airfare shoppers interact with a lead generator, while more than a quarter of hotel shoppers visit a planning and/or reviews site.”


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