Each month roughly 22 million US consumers shop for hotel rooms online at hotel supplier sites or online travel agencies — with notable peaks and troughs in the summer and winter months respectively. In Q1 2009, hotel shopper volumes surged to an all-time high 24.5 million monthly shoppers, outpacing the seasonally-strong third quarters in 2008 and 2007.
In the fourth quarter of 2008, amidst a challenging economic environment, consumer interest in hotels slowed even after accounting for seasonality. While the previous three quarters in 2008 experienced 4% growth from a year ago on average, online hotel shopping activity in the fourth quarter was virtually unchanged from Q4 2007 levels. In Q1 2009 however, aggregate hotel shopping bounced back, growing a healthy 13% from the previous year, the best growth performance in recent history.
While current economic forces have undoubtedly played a role in shaping consumer behavior offline and online, consumer interest in hotels online has continued to grow. During each quarter in 2008 and in the first quarter of 2009, online hotel shopper volumes were up from the same period a year ago. Though this study does not take into account the discounted rates and deals that hotel marketers may be using in order to stimulate demand, it is nonetheless significant in that it shows continued and resilient consumer interest in hotels. If travel sellers put together the right combination of price and product, consumer demand will be there to snap it up.