INVIA.CZ Responds to Dynamic Development of Online Travel Services in Central and Eastern Europe

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While in the United States and Western Europe on-line sale of travel services represents a major segment of the market for quite some time already, Central and Eastern Europe is experiencing its great boom right now. INVIA.CZ, the largest provider of online travel services in Central Europe dominates the market in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. In 2007, company has successfully entered markets in Poland and Hungary. In 2008, company plans expansion to further markets in Central and Eastern Europe such as Romania, Ukraine and Bulgaria. INVIA.CZ also responds to a growing demand for individual travelling in the region.

In 2007, INVIA.CZ, the largest provider of online travel services in the Central Europe continues expanding to more Central and East European countries and responds to a growing demand for a more complex offer of online travel services especially with regards to so-called individual travelling. Given the potential of the market, the company will continue along the similar lines in 2008.

Travel agencies operating in the region include those which focus on selling and arranging for accommodation, air tickets, car hire etc., as well as agencies specializing in organized tourism. The latter provide their customers with a complete vacation package - all the client has to do is choose the date and place, and the agency takes care of everything else. It is precisely this form of using the online offer that is most popular in Central and Eastern Europe.

For instance in the Czech Republic, which has a population of 10 million, 2 million out of the total of 3.9 million holiday-makers who travelled abroad in 2006 bought their trip from a travel agency. The share of vacation packages thus exceeds 50 %. Tourists in Western Europe and the USA on the other hand prefer the so-called individual travelling, that means designing and planning their trips themselves.

Individual travelling is increasingly popular in Central and Eastern Europe as well. In the United States it has been much in demand since long ago, and clearly dominates among the forms of travelling. In western Europe it accounts for a major part of sales. Central and East European countries are only just discovering this alternative. Here, too, internet users are becoming familiar with the possibility of independently and quickly purchasing air tickets or hotel accommodation, hiring a car, buying travel insurance etc. Travel agencies therefore devote growing attention to this sort of service. Particularly online agencies offer, apart from vacation packages, the above-described individual services (online booking of air tickets, hotel accommodation, car hire, insurance etc.) as a new item in their catalogues.

In Central and Eastern Europe, one of the largest and most dynamic markets for online sale of tourist services is represented by the Czech Republic. "In the past few years our customers have grown to like online sale, and their number increases every day. Such wave of interest can be expected, aside from the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and Hungary, where our company operates, also in other Central and East European countries, for example Romania or the Ukraine," says Michal Drozd, Managing Director of INVIA.CZ, the largest online provider of vacation packages in the Czech Republic.

In 2006 online sale in the Czech Republic came up to approximately 15 % of the overall sale of tourist services. Over the years since 2003, when its share represented 2 %, it has almost doubled every year. In 2004 it amounted to 4.4 % and in 2005 already 8.9 %. While the total financial turnover of travel services has been staying at the same level for several years, that of online sale - its important part - has been dynamically growing and is envisaged to reach 34 % in 2008.

In Slovakia, Hungary and Poland, online sale is not yet reaching such figures as in the Czech Republic, forecasts however indicate its steep rise, and its popularity is expected soon to reach that it enjoys in Western Europe. Chances to develop online sale is fully opened also to countries farther to the east - such as the Ukraine, Romania and Bulgaria. There is much room even in that region for introducing new services and winning new clients. The share of online sale of tourist services in Central and Eastern Europe will thus approach in the future the share it has in Western Europe and the United States, where it today represents more than 60 %.

The largest provider of online tourist services in Central Europe is the INVIA.CZ Company (http://www.invia.cz), owned by the Swiss investment group Internet Travel Holding AG. In the Czech Republic its turnover represents about 50 % of the market of online sale of foreign trips. The Slovak subsidiary of INVIA (INVIA.SK, http://www.invia.sk) was the market leader in its area of business in 2004, and the Polish and Hungarian branches (INVIA.PL, http://www.invia.pl) and INVIA.HU, http://www.invia.hu) have been successfully growing, too.

Michal Tuma
Marketing Manager, INVIA.CZ
michal.tuma(at)invia.cz
tel. (+420) 221 411 432
For more information, see http://www.invia.net

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