A new report finds few use travel search engines but that declares the area set to grow. Meanwhile, an recent review gives Kayak top honors when pitted against some competitors.
Via Marketing Pilgrim, a new report US Travel Consumer Survey 2006 from Jupiterresearch found that "only four percent of online travelers say a travel search engine impelled them to plan or purchase their most recent trip."
David Schatsky, president of Jupiter Kagan said:
Travel meta search engines are now offering expanded products and several have relationships with major distribution partners such as Yahoo!, AOL and Amazon. With this, travel meta search engines are poised to grow.
I agree with David, that meta search engines are poised to grow, but of the deals mentioned above, I only think Farechase really benefits.
Kayak, which powers Pinpoint Travel shows up for many searches on AOL, but Travelocity still powers AOL's travel channel. SideStep signed a deal with Amazon, but Amazon's travel section is so hidden that I doubt it's driving much traffic. There's potential for both these relationships to develop into something more meaningful for all parties, but at this point, only the FareChase/Yahoo! integration has much bite.
In separate news, Review: Kayak Best Travel Search Engine from the Associated Press is a bold headline, covering Kayak getting top honors in a face-off against several meta search engines.
The writer puts the search engines through a number of hypothetical trips (unfortunately, only looking at flights, not hotels) and says:
Kayak.com most often had the best fare six times while Yahoo came up best or tied five times. Mobissimo was on top four times, and SideStep Inc. tied for first once.
The writer was also very impressed with the features/UI on Kayak.
For a different perspective, BusinessWeek Online's Sarah Lacey wrote a review of Kayak earlier this week with the title Kayak: A Step Behind SideStep. Everyone has an opinion.