Despite continual headwinds caused by COVID variants, the
war in Ukraine and high fuel prices, traffic to travel websites remains on the
upswing and points to strong business in the coming months across multiple
According to Similarweb’s 2022 Travel Industry Insights
Report, since January, traffic to top domains in the car rental, hotel and
vacation rental sectors has been at or above levels seen in those months during
2019. As of March, the top cruise domains are also on par with 2019 levels and airline
sites are nearly there, while traffic to online travel agency and metasearch
sites is still down.
“We are still seeing a lot of growth and a lot of optimism
for the summer of 2022,” says Alisha Kapur, Similarweb’s senior manager for
travel and e-commerce.
“It will be significantly busier than the past two summers ...
levels that at least rival 2019 bookings and traffic, if they don’t exceed
states the report, “looking at the remainder of 2022 and beyond, the positive
momentum in travel should continue at an accelerated pace...”
air travel is generally booked far in advance, Similarweb cites airline website
traffic as a “good proxy for demand” in that sector.
the early days of the pandemic in April 2020 through February 2022, traffic to
airline websites on mobile and desktop has increased 181%, with low-cost
carriers including Ryanair, EasyJet and Southwest capturing the most visitors.
“For EasyJet we are actually seeing that they have had the
highest conversions that they’ve had all pandemic over the past month or so,”
“What that implies to me is that you are seeing the budget traveler
is really coming forward and has been throughout the pandemic ... and the
providers who offer options that are a bit more affordable are seeing that
For airlines based in the United States, American
Airlines, Alaska, Southwest and United all had higher conversions in March 2022
compared to April 2019, on average 18% higher, “signaling strong renewed
confidence in the industry,” Kapur says.
For accommodations, Similarweb data shows monthly traffic up
200% and 330%, respectively, for Airbnb and Vrbo between April 2020 and
February 2022, and the report states “this trend and secular shift to vacation
home rentals is expected to continue in 2022 and beyond.”
Kapur notes that while Airbnb is still in the lead, Vrbo is
growing its market share, maintaining positive year-over-year growth in traffic
throughout 2021 and continuing to get a boost from marketing spending coming
from parent company Expedia Group.
Similarweb says Vrbo’s PPC spend jumped to $3 million in
February, more than double its spend in December 2021.
“Expedia Group is spending the most in the United States of
any entity, much more than Booking Holdings, more PPC spend ... so I think there
is a huge focus for Expedia Group to push Vrbo and to grow Vrbo and pandemic
conditions have made it so that is very possible. Going forward I think it will
be a much more competitive space than it ever was. And it’s not just Airbnb and
Vrbo ... in general the [short-term rental] space is becoming much more
competitive than it ever was,” she says.
Meanwhile Airbnb is notable for its marketing efficiency as
it receives the majority of its traffic directly or organically – more than 88%
of its traffic in March - thanks to the brand’s strong awareness and
penetration among consumers in most markets.
And Airbnb takes the lead in converted visits, according to Similarweb, reaching 1.5
million in February compared to 355,000 for Vrbo, and more than hotel
competitor Marriott.com (1.3 million) and Hilton.com (one million).
Similarweb is a digital intelligence platform that analyzes
data extracted through direct measurement, its contributory network,
partnerships and public sources.