Hitwise study for icelolly.com finds brand bucking trend of declining visitors

Holidays specialist claims data reveals it is UK’s biggest package comparison site

New research commissioned from Hitwise by icelolly.com has shown how the holiday comparison brand’s focus on packages is helping it buck the trend of declining visitor numbers.

A competitive analysis by Hitwise has found that month-on-month visits to brands in its travel agency category (which covers a wide range of travel brands) are down on average 17% this year.

January, traditionally the peak turn-of year booking month for mainstream package holidays, saw the biggest monthly downturn of 21%, underlining the difficulties the sector is facing this year.

In the last eight months, only November 2018 fared worse with a 20% decrease while April saw a 17% fall in visitor numbers and May 16%.

The Hitwise report attributed this to the impact on consumer confidence in overseas holidays of last year’s UK heatwave and football World Cup, and ongoing concerns about Brexit.

A year-on-year quarterly analysis for the period January to April 2019, found a brighter picture for travel brands like Icelolly vying for holidaymakers in Hitwise’s agency category.

On average visits to the six leading brands increased 30%, with Dealchecker hitting that average growth figure for the market.

Lower growth levels were seen at TravelSupermarket (27%), Holiday Pirates (16%) and Travelzoo (6%), according to the Hitwise analysis.

KAYAK outperformed its competitors with a 38% increase but this was dwarfed by Icelolly which managed to double its visitor numbers (+101%).

In terms of base numbers KAYAK remains the clear segment leader with around 4.5 million monthly unique visitors and growing.

Travelzoo has retained its second place with Icelolly now in a close third ahead of Travel Supermarket and Holiday Pirates.

Icelolly’s chief marketing officer, Ross Matthews said KAYAK continued growth has come due its main focus on flights, while it has positioned itself as a holiday comparison specialist.

The Hitwise data reveals Icelolly saw a 3% increase in visits in May compared to KAYAK’s 22%, but significant reductions in traffic for travel deals sites and holiday comparison competitors.

“We’ve partnered with Hitwise, the leading competitive intelligence company, to highlight the progress we’ve made at icelolly.com and to provide a wider view of the changes occurring with metasearch and travel deals brands over recent months,” sad Matthews.

He added the Hitwise data reflects the impact icelolly.com’s high profile TV tie-ups with ITV shows like Family Guy, American Dad and Piers Morgan’s Life Stories.

And it also comes after the brand targeted the early-year peaking booking period in 2019 with its “Do It For The Stories” campaign that kicked off in December.

Lisa Luu, global head of insights at Hitwise, said: “At Hitwise, we combine the largest daily panel of online behaviour and market-leading consumer survey data to deliver in-depth actionable insights.

“For this particular project, we’ve been able to establish icelolly.com’s growing market share relative to other travel brands whilst also demonstrating the quality of their ‘booking’ audience.”

In the 13 weeks to the end of May, Hitwise identified 2.78 million package holiday visitors – people who viewed a package or flight + hotel in the same session.

In the period 316,000 booked a package or flight + hotel. Hitwise reported that icelolly.com had the highest proportion of package visitors and bookers among its main competitors.

Icelolly.com claimed this shows package holiday shoppers and bookers are less likely to visit a deals site than a holidays price comparison or metasearch site.