comScore Media Metrix released its monthly Web traffic report today and notes the summer uptick in the travel category.
More than 100 million Americans visited the category during the month, affecting the following travel sub-categories: Transactions, Hotels/Resorts, Ground/Cruise, and Airplanes.
Travel — Transactions sites ranked as the top gaining category for the month of June, growing 32 percent to 5.2 million visitors…
Hotels/Resorts sites also saw strong growth during the month with 36.6 million Americans turning to these sites for lodging options.
That’s a lot of traffic for what amounts to an essentially new business that’s been created by the Web. Before we had all of this information at our fingertips, we used travel agencies, those little storefront operations that you used to find in every strip mall in the U.S. The Web has wiped them out, almost completely. Ask somebody under 20 about travel agencies, and they’ll likely look at you funny.
The industry’s woes began with the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks and were complicated by the recession and deep discounts from travel providers. What used to be storefronts is now largely at-home agents who work on commission alone.
But the real killer of this industry was the Web, and it’s a lesson for anybody who lives and works in the world of (formerly) protected knowledge. The Internet finds the middleman in any transaction to be inefficient, and that is what has decimated travel agencies. Oh they’re still around — and still a smart bet in certain circumstances — but as the comScore numbers show, travel is mostly a do-it-yourself world today.