Internet Trend of 2009: Women and Oldies Are Becoming 'Goldies' for Online Travel Market

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IVRA Holding: Within the global trend of increasing share of travel bookings made online, where 2/3 of all bookings in 2009 were influenced by the Internet, the survey carried out by IVRA Holding revealed another two interesting trends. The shares of the female and senior 55+ population groups are growing unprecedentedly fast. In the period 2006-2009 the female's online booking share has increased from 48.9% to 50.4%, while the seniors 55+ share has jumped from 13.9% to 18.5%. The survey reveals the reasons influencing these significant trends.

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In 2009 approximately 44% of all travel reservations are to be generated from the Internet (40% in 2008, 34% in 2007, 29% in 2006). Moreover, another 30% of all travel reservations are to be initiated by the Internet, but made offline via call centers (Merrill Lynch). That means, cumulatively, more than two third (2/3) of all travel bookings in the world are influenced by or made via online reservation websites.

With such a huge success of online travel industry, it is interesting and important to discover the demographic roots of this skyrocketing. Who are these people digging the Internet and arranging vacations and business trips for their families and colleagues?

The survey and statistical study made by IVRA Holding on its worldwide travel reservation system reveal a number of interesting facts and trends.

TREND 1: Women are becoming in charge for travel reservations made online.
As depicted in the attached chart 'Gender distribution of bookings over the years 2006-2011', females exceed the psychological milestone of 50% of the total bookings made in 2009.

That record is quite interesting, taking into account the fact that, in the year 2006, the gender distribution has been fixed on the 51.3 / 48.8% level in favor of male-made bookings. We expect the trend to continue reaching 51.1 % of female made bookings in the year 2011.

What drives this gender trend? From the survey analysis we have identified the following 4 (four) possible reasons that make this trend happen.
1. Women are becoming more active in their business sphere and, besides that, are more often traveling alone. That one, as well as the next reason, is a consequence of a global feminization.
2. Despite the fact that an average female income is still lower than male' one, women' average salary is growing faster. That certainly increases the degree of freedom for women, which they are enjoying in their spendings and, more particularly, in traveling spendings.
3. Women are closing the gap in the access to and acquaintance with online technologies.
4. The well-known generic fact, that women are responsible for family travels empowers the three abovementioned reasons and finish up the explanation of this trend.

As a side-fact from the call-center statistics: females contact (phone calls, emails) the support center much more often than males. In year 2008-2009 we have registered that 73% of all queries were made by women and only 27 % by men.

TREND 2: Adults 55+ are opening up and start using online travel centers intensively.

The attached chart on 'Share of bookings made by Adults 55+ over 2006-2011' represents corresponding results of our survey and statistical study on age distribution of our bookers. The strongest trend discovered: share of senior travel bookers is rapidly growing. While in the year 2006 the booking share was 13.9 % out of total bookings, in the year 2008 we recorded the share of 16,7 %, where in the current year 2009 we expect it to reach the level of 18,5 %. The three-year increase is, as in situation with the female trend, quite dramatic: 32 percents. Our predicted share of seniors in 2011 equals to 21.5 %.

What has influenced such a trend? Let's look closer at the reasons collected from our survey analysis. There are the following three major influences:
1. Growing acquaintance with the Internet. In the beginning of the century seniors were under-represented in the Internet domains. Nowadays, almost every house has an access to the Internet and seniors begin to learn and use the opportunities provided online.
2. Population is aging in general. According to the research of National Institute of Aging, in the developed countries the percentage of adults 55+ will grow from 24.1% to 31.5% during the decade 2000-2010. This global trend directly influences our reported Internet usage trend.
3. The Internet-aware 'young' newcomers are jumping into the 55+ category.
4. Social factors, such as relatively stable income from the pension funds, increasing quality of medicine support and social care trigger the phenomenon of rising senior tourism.

Looking from a global prospective, due to demographic and social changes, senior tourism will be - at least middle-term (until 2030) - the 'engine of growth' in tourism (Forschungsgemeinschaft Urlaub und Reisen 2004). The number of travelers will increase circa 3.4 million by 2030. Subsequently though, this volume will shrink and arrive at merely 1.5 million more travelers in 2050 than the current value. As such, the proportion of the older elderly will be unmistakably higher and the proportion of the young elderly will be lower than at the present.

Concluding, the global trends on feminization, aging and growing Internet-awareness of previously under-represented seniors and females, influence rapid increase of the share of the these two population groups in travel reservations made online.

Women and oldies are the 'goldies' for online travel market? It seems to be true, since the abovementioned trends will continue at least until the year 2030.

About IVRA Holding:

The company successfully operates in the travel market from April 2002. IVRA Holding develops and provides B2C online-solutions for tourists sectors. IVRA Holding is founded and headquartered in Eindhoven, The Netherlands, currently operating Hotel and travel booking system OrangeSmile Tours and Design bureau

Egor Bondarev, Marketing Director, IVRA Holding


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Egor Bondarev
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