ARC's online transactions continue torrid pace in November, TMCs get first bump in 2009NewsBy Dennis Schaal | December 16, 2009Share This article was originally published on Online travel agency air transactions settled through ARC increased 19.54% in November 2009, compared with the previous November, as the OTAs continue crunching torrid volumes of transactions after eliminating consumer booking fees on flights in March and April.And, in a hopeful sign for corporate travel, mega corporate travel management companies saw their transactions climb 5.86% for November, their first increase this year after 10 previous months of declines.To provide some perspective, ARC's overall transactions were up 8.64% for the month, which was only the second monthly increase in 2009. October's 5.13% jump in overall air transactions settled through ARC was the year's first monthly jump.As I posted earlier, ARC will begin to publicize these statistics on a regular basis next year. ARC made the November statistics available to a couple of journalists, including myself, on an ad hoc basis.ARC"s Travel Agent Channel Segmentation -- Monthly % Change chart shows how OTA transactions have been soaring since they followed Priceline's year-earlier lead and eliminated booking fees on flights in March and April.Here are the year-over year monthly increases/decreases so far in 2009 for the OTAs: January 7.64% decline; February 7.47% decline; March 2.92% increase; April 7.04% increase; May 16.26% increase; June 15.92% increase; July 20.16% increase; August 19.51% increase; September 19.44% increase; October 26.6% increase; and November 19.54% increase.As stated, the mega TMCs saw their transactions climb 5.86% in November -- their first increase in transactions in 2009.Interestingly, the "other" category in the channel segmentation chart takes in brick and mortar and independent travel agencies. These agencies recorded a nominal decline -- down 0.08% -- in November transactions, and that was the category's best month of 2009 to date.If TMCs drive the bus, so to speak, in travel, then their first monthly increase is a tentative, but very hopeful sign in terms of a travel recovery.After eliminating booking fees, the OTAs have done superbly in driving volume and transactions. Their challenge will be to keep the conversions going as they vie with airline websites for dominance.