The dawn of searching and booking your own vacation is still new for some travelers.  Yes, there are still people who prefer to call travel agents to make recommendations and reserve a trip. For others, searching online travel options is the only way they’ve ever known. They grew up understanding online self-sufficiency and wouldn’t have it any other way. Travel search sites have been accessible to the masses for over 20 years now. Here’s a look at the transition of online travel search from its inception to what it is today.

The beginning*: 1946 to 1992

During these years, airlines developed SABRE, Apollo, Travicom (UK), and Galileo. These systems were used most often by travel agents.

Two pivotal years: 1995, 1996

1995 and 1996 were pivotal years for the travel industry. That’s when travel search became widely accessible to the public. SABRE announced their do-it-yourself Travelocity site. Microsoft created Expedia. Priceline came to market offering better deals for opaque choices – where the travel provider is revealed after reserving. All of these sites enabled travel suppliers to connect online with their customers.

Growth years: 2000 to 2010

2000: Hotwire comes to market. Tripadvisor travel guides are launched and include a small button that reads, ‘Visitors, add your own review.” This button spawned the adoption of online travel reviews and forums.

2001: Five major airlines band together to create Orbitz.

2002: WAP and cHTML-enabled mobile phones from Nokia and Blackberry provided compatibility with websites.

2003: Hotwire and Expedia merge.

2004: Metasearch site Kayak is created to search results across many travel providers. The vacation rental site Homeaway comes to market.

2008: AirBnB was launched. This was also the year that Apple enabled their iOS Software Developer Kit to be available to 3rd party developers. Travel companies were now able to create applications for mobile phones.

2009: Travelzoo creates, an airfare comparison and booking site.

2010: Timeline-based travel site, Hipmunk, is created

Convergence years: 2011 to 2019

Then, the growth years of 2000 to 2010 spiraled into the convergence years from 2011 to 2019.

This graphic shows the acquisition of many travel search companies by other search companies. The convergence resulted in the creation of two mega-travel corporations: Expedia Group and Booking Holdings/Priceline Group.

infographic-travel search landscape

2011: Google acquires ITA Software which enables them to launch Google Flights. More people begin reserving travel online as web-based security improves.

2017: Opptee Travel Search(TM) introduces a new type of search tool. Opptee offers access to dozens of travel searches – search providers, aggregators and direct suppliers for flights, hotels, car rentals, cruises, vacation packages – all listed alphabetically and impartially.

Travel searches conducted on a mobile device totaled 26% in the U.S., 47% in Europe; 40% in Asia; 38% in the Middle East and Africa; and 34% in Latin America. (Sojern Global Travel Insights, 2018).

In 2017, Travel & Tourism’s total contribution to global GDP was $8.3 trillion. Statistics according to Uniting Travel (previously Global Travel Association Coalition).

2018: cites that 80% of customers prefer to self-serve in order to get the information that they need. (TechRadar, 2018).

Consumers are beginning to understand the risks of online personalization. This feature feeds content that’s most relevant to an individual, however, it also manipulates travel prices based on personal shopping habits and device choices. For instance, searching from a different country may offer different pricing. Searching from an iPad vs a mobile phone vs a computer can offer different prices. Reported by CBC Marketplace.

The future

By 2030, the UN World Tourism Organization estimates there will be 1.8 billion international tourist arrivals – an average of 5 million people crossing international borders every single day.

As a result of this unbelievable growth, it’s no wonder so many search companies and travel providers are vying for your tourism dollars.

Let Opptee simplify your travel search choices. Opptee searches more travel sites than any other and searches sites that YOU choose.

*Additional sources:

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