Group Travel Planning Websites: A Leader Emerging?

A number of websites designed to help consumers plan, book, and manage group trips have cropped up in the past couple of years. These include group booking tools such as Groople.com and GroupTravelPlanet.com, planning tools such as HomeAndAbroad.com and TripCart.com, and hybrid sites that combine a variety of features. It has been a rocky battle for these upstarts, many of which have not been able to either market themselves effectively to generate site traffic, or find the right product mix to sustain an active user base.

"I’m in!", a site launched in early 2007, however, is carving out its place in the market and in the past few months has seen its site traffic surge. ImIn.com helps consumers and groups generate new trip ideas and then follows up by providing organization, planning, and networking tools for managing the trip. The mix of content and functionality is striking a chord with consumers and has led to ImIn.com attracting over 170,000 U.S. visitors to its site in December. The figure is a larger total than has ever been observed within the category and is 2X to 3X higher than more established brands like Groople and HotelPlanner.

ImIn.com is attracting a valuable and qualified travel audience to its site. Of the website traffic, 73% are measured as being "in-market" for traveling, as defined by actively visiting other online travel agency and travel supplier sites within the same month as visiting ImIn.com. Over 40% are in-market for a flight, 30% in-market for a hotel, and over a quarter are specifically in-market for a vacation package, a level that far exceeds the norm seen at travel websites. The audience also skews high for income levels, with nearly two-thirds in either the $60-100K or $100K+ income brackets.

A strong indicator for adoption of the ImIn.com product is active usage of a variety of the tools available on the site. Both the trip-idea content as well as the member tools for managing trips are generating activity among consumers. There is a near-equal level of activity for searching for trip ideas, viewing specific trip ideas, and clicking on "I’m in!" featured ideas. Illustrating the balance of activity on the site, there is also a heavy number of visits to register for membership, and visits to the existing member homepage.

With ImIn.com’s rapid growth in late 2007, it seems the hybrid approach of combining a wealth of travel content with rich social networking functionality is a winning model. Additionally, the consumers adopting the site are high-income, and often in-market for big-ticket vacation packages, making the site an attractive target for travel advertisers. It’s a site worth taking a look at.

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