Europe destined to be #1 for online distribution

According to Phocuswright, Europe is set to have the highest online penetration of any region from 2021, while 2019 gave the European travel industry plenty of opportunities to demonstrate its resilience.

The recent travel research by Phocuswright, entitled the Europe Online Travel Overview 2019, the sudden collapse of one of the region’s biggest travel brands, the looming exit of the UK from the European Union, and myriad challenges in the airline segment each threatened to derail growth.

Despite these and other formidable issues, Europe’s travel market grew roughly 2% in 2019 to €296bn. Though the fallout from these challenges will no doubt extend into 2020 and beyond, travel continues to be a key element of the European lifestyle and the continent remains an attractive destination for travellers everywhere. Hence, the overall market is still projected to climb over the next several years.

These gains, however, are not reflected equally across all distribution channels. Offline bookings continue to decline as European consumers seek out online platforms both to plan and purchase their leisure trips. For the first time, more than half of all European travel bookings were made online in 2019.

Led by Europe’s two largest markets – the UK and Germany – online bookings are projected to continue to climb. By 2021, Europe will, says Phocuswright, surpass the US to have the highest online penetration of any region.

Photo: Online travel penetration by region, 2017-2022