The time is ripe to enter the Canadian online travel space, according to a new report by online travel research firm PhoCusWright.
The research, which compared and contrasted six key regions: Atlantic, Quebec, Ontario, Prairies, Alberta and British Columbia, concluded that the Canadian online market will experience double-digit growth over the next two years.
According to the research, nearly one-third, or roughly £1 billion, of all travel in Canada will be booked online this year. PhoCusWright estimates Canada’s total leisure and unmanaged business travel market has more than doubled in two years to reach approximately £3 billion in 2006, and is projected to nearly double again by 2009.
The report found that the Internet is playing an increasingly significant role in both influencing consumer shopping and as a source of transactions.
For example, with a geographical climate more akin to that of Northern Europe than the varied U.S. landscape, Canadians, like Europeans, are huge consumers of travel packages.
Tour operators offering vacations to classic warm destinations in the Caribbean and Mexico play a large role in the Canadian leisure travel market, compared to the relatively small role of traditional tour operators in the U.S. market.
The dominant positions of Air Canada and WestJet airlines in a market where four airports account for almost 70% of all passenger traffic create a vastly different environment for scheduled air travel, compared to the relatively open skies of both the U.S. and Europe. The significant role of tour operators and charter carriers adds another dynamic to this market.
The study found that British Columbia (B.C.) spends significantly more online versus all regions but Ontario. Trip frequency was also the highest for those two regions, with online travellers taking an average of 3.9 trips in B.C. and 4.1 trips in Ontario.
“Major global online travel players entering the market have had to adapt their models to suit Canadian tastes, while several Canadian travel suppliers, retailers and home-grown online travel entities have leveraged their knowledge of the market to capitalize on the growing shift to book travel online”, according to the report.