Online bookings surge across Europe

Online bookings surge across Europe

Online bookings accounted for more than half the travel sales across Europe for the first time last year, according to industry analyst IPK International.

But agency sales continue to dominate Europe's biggest travel market: Germany. IPK reported 55% of all travel bookings in Europe were online last year, up 15% on 2010.

However, many of the more than one-in-two online bookings were through the travel trade. IPK reported 49% of travel agent bookings were through an agency website.

The Frankfurt-based travel and tourism research specialist released the figures as part of its annual world travel trends survey at German trade show ITB in Berlin.

At the same time industry analyst GfK confirmed agency sales still dominate a German market that has boomed so far this year. GfK reported German agency bookings up 11% year on year in December and January and online sales up 10%, although the latter sold at a “significantly lower” price.

A GfK spokeswoman said: “Travel agencies account for the lion's share of tourism sales in Germany.”

IPK's figures led the company's chief executive Rolf Freitag to suggest the smart phone industry had exaggerated the trend towards booking via mobiles despite the surge online. Its results suggested 98% of online bookings were made on PCs or netbooks and just 2% on smart phones or mobiles.

Freitag said: “Mobile booking has been pushed very much by the smart phone business, but it is only 2%. It will increase, but it is not going to be the majority of bookings.” He reported one in four smart phone bookings in Europe were made in the UK.

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