Vacation time and surfing the Internet go hand in hand. The marriage of the Internet and the travel industry has come a long way since the Holiday Inn began booking hotel reservations over the world wide web in the Summer of 1995.
Looking through 18 year old newspaper clippings, I found myself in the travel section where I read that nearly 5,000 computer users found the new Holiday Inn website within its first 90 minutes of operation. At that time, a spokesman predicted that someday the chain would receive 5,000 bookings a day over the Internet. Boy Howdy – was he spot on. Statistic Brain reports that 148.3 million travel bookings are made on the internet each year. In fact, a majority, 57 percent, of all travel reservations are made on the Internet.
PC’s in hotel rooms were a big deal in 1999
Choice Hotels was the first hotel chain to offer guests in-room PC’s as a standard amenity in 1999. Near the same time, In-Flight Phone Corp signed three airlines, America West, Continental, and USAir, onto Flightlink II, a new-at-the-time telecommunications system whereby passengers could use a computer screen built into the seat back and a telephone in the armrest and hook up their laptops to the on-line service. The company crash landed in bankruptcy, however, and went out of business in 2003.
In the UK, almost 30 percent of travelers booked their most recent hotel stay directly from a hotel brand website, while the same percent booked from either an online travel agency or an online hotels aggregator. In 2012 for the first time, Russia booked more trips over the Internet than through a travel agent. In terms of Internet global popularity, Alexa ranks a favored hotel booking site, Booking.com at 122 relative to other sites.
According to a survey, half of all online travel search is driven by 13 words, dominated by – you guessed it – ‘cheap' and ‘discount'. Our use of computers and the internet itself is changing. More than 17 percent of 3.2 million on line searches for flights from the UK were made on mobile devices, according to stats from Greenlight. Nearly one-fifth of travelers have downloaded travel apps to their smartphone and almost one third have compared airfares or hotel rates with them. Tablets accounted for more than 11 percent of internet traffic pertaining to travel in January 2013.
Hotelmarketing.com says “The internet continues to revolutionize the basic principles of hotel marketing, and new data suggest that the impact of social media on the hospitality industry is growing at a pace equivalent to technology itself.” According to their survey, they say “Online reigns supreme when it comes to booking travel, with nearly 80 percent of respondents making travel arrangements online."
Regardless of our connectivity with technology, vacations remain sacrosanct. Another recent survey shows that nearly 70 percent of respondents claim they disconnect completely or as much as possible. United Kingdom citizens rank highest at 74 percent in turning off tech while on holiday. Americans are a bit wishy washy about leaving the devices at home and register only 60 percent unplugged.
Tweets fall off during relaxation time, too. Travelers don’t contact friends and family with stories and pictures via social media until they get back home to the work-a-day grind. Although nearly one-third of survey respondents do share, they wait until they return from vacation.
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