Hoo boy, this story is a scandalous one, with new research suggesting Booking.com is a more popular ‘travel agent’ than Flight Centre. Cue drama.
Roy Morgan Research has used its Holiday Tracker data to see which booking service Aussie travellers have used most over a 12-month period, with over 13 million people surveyed.
And while Flight Centre was a hot contender with nine per cent popularity, Booking.com just scraped past to beat it with 9.3 per cent.
This is the first time for many years that Flight Centre wasn’t handed gold, and has shown how much of a climb Booking.com has made. In June 2015, the last lot of travel agent data, Flight Centre lead with 9.4 per cent, and Booking.com only boasted 5.8 per cent. Airbnb didn’t even get a mention.
And look out, the OTAs are coming for ya, because Trivago (2.5 per cent), Expedia.com.au (3.7 per cent, up from 3.2 per cent), and Hotels.com (2.4 per cent, up from 2.1 per cent) are all making their presence known too.
“Since Roy Morgan Research started measuring Australian holiday-goers’ use of travel agents and tour operators in January 2004, Flight Centre has been the undisputed leader. So for Booking.com to overtake the long-term leader is big news,” Norman Morris, Industry Communications Director for Roy Morgan, said.
“Bricks-and-mortar travel agents have been heavily impacted by the rise of online-only operators, with those that didn’t adapt quickly enough to the digital age soon finding themselves losing relevance.
“Flight Centre has long been the flag-bearer for ‘traditional’ travel agents that made a successful transition to a multi-channel service. Booking.com, on the other hand is strictly online. And it’s not the only web-based service to be making waves in this always competitive, ever-evolving field.”
Interestingly though, despite more Aussies using Booking.com in the last 12 months, for those booking their next holiday, Flight Centre remains the agent of choice.
A total of 23.4 per cent of the population select Flight Centre as the place they intend to go when planning their trip, whereas Booking.com sat at 13.6 per cent.
Wotif.com hasn’t fared as well, dropping from second-most considered travel agent (10.9 per cent) as of June 2015 to sixth (10.3 per cent) in 2016. Not surprisingly, Airbnb (10.7 per cent) and Trivago (10.4 per cent) are also shaking things up in the consideration stakes, debuting in the Top Five for 2016.
“Flight Centre is clearly still viewed positively by Australians, topping the ‘consideration set’ for future holiday use,” Morris added.
“While there is no denying the ease and convenience of the friction-free booking experience provided by web-based travel agents, bricks-and-mortar stores have the edge when it comes to personalised service—and Roy Morgan’s Holiday Tracker can help them identify those travellers for whom this is especially important.”