Economic headwinds. Fears of inflation. Lingering COVID concerns. If the anxieties of the new year are putting a damper on the outlook for travel, you wouldn’t know it from a new report on December’s web traffic for the biggest online travel agencies.
Tripadvisor, Expedia, Airbnb and Booking.com enjoyed a large enough increase in visitor traffic on both a yearly and monthly basis to bode well for 2023, according to the analysis by digital intelligence platform Similarweb.
“It’s indicative of strong demand for travel,” says Jim Corridore, senior insights manager for Similarweb. “People are looking to book trips for the new year, and nothing about this report indicates any kind of letup in search for travel.”
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The boost was particularly robust for Booking.com, which saw a 28% increase in year-over-year traffic in December, though it remained the smallest of the peer groups with 56.5 million visitors.
Tripadvisor remained the most popular site with 89 million visitors in December, 15% higher than the previous year. Expedia saw nearly 17% growth with its 67 million visitors, matching the total for Airbnb, which lagged the others with 6% year-over-year growth.
Airbnb also lost the most relative traffic share, slipping two percentage points versus its peers, while Booking.com gained the most in the group with nearly two percentage points. Despite the relative shifts, Tripadvisor remained the leader with 32% of the total share of traffic, followed by Airbnb and Expedia at 24% and Booking.com at 20%.
Following a typical fall slowdown, all four OTAs saw month-over-month growth averaging 8% in December, suggesting to Similarweb’s Corridore that the summer of revenge travel – when consumers unleashed a pent-up demand following two years of COVID-19 lockdowns – may not end with the season.
“Signs are that revenge travel is continuing,” Corridore says. “People are choosing experiences over other types of purchases with their discretionary income, and of those experiences they are choosing to travel.
“That is continuing and definitely a strong sign for hotels and vacation rentals, airlines, cruises, car rentals – the entire sector is still seeing decent growth.”