Search for flights to short haul destinations drop almost 50 per cent on March levels

 Report notes dramatic shift in the way in which consumers searched for flights online compared to the previous quarter

London, 28 July, 2010 - The total number of UK consumer searches for flights in June were up 28% on May levels, reveals the latest quarterly independent research from Greenlight, a leading specialist search and social marketing consulting and technology firm. According to the report, 'Flights Report June 2010', there were 38 million searches performed online in June by consumers compared to 29 million in May. However, the research observed a dramatic shift in the way in which they searched for flights online, compared to the previous quarter. Whilst generic keywords accounted for just 6% of online searches for flights in March, they jumped more than five-fold to 40% in June. Meanwhile, search for short haul flights, which accounted for 64% of overall flight search volumes in March, suffered a sharp drop accounting for 38% in June.

Using industry data and proprietary technology, Greenlight identified and classified 356 of the most popular global destinations that UK consumers book flights to and profiled which search terms they used when they went online in June to find flights to each location. The research also took a set of generic keywords which are not destination-specific but are also used when searching for flights. Greenlight used the data to compile its quarterly league table of the top 60 performing flight brands and websites, in both natural* and paid search**, based on their website's visibility in relation to the most popular search terms. Greenlight also ranked the 15 most proactive in social media.

Key findings reveal:

  • The term 'Flight' was queried 13.6 million times. It accounted for 88% of the 15.4 million generic flight searches conducted online in June. With 98% share of voice, SkyScanner was the most visible website for generic keywords in natural search. It achieved this through ranking at position one for eight of the generic keywords analysed, overtaking CheapFlights - which lost 81% share of voice, dropping to position 11, having been the most visible website for generic flight searches in March
  • Flights to European destinations were the most popular. Palma proved to be the top flight destination, with the term 'Palma flight' accounting for 7% of the 14.5 million short haul flight searches conducted in June
  • CheapFlights was the most visible website for short haul destinations. It achieved a dominant 96% share of voice through ranking at position one for 439 keywords including the top five most searched for terms: 'Palma flight', 'Alicante flight', 'Barcelona flight', Faro flight', and 'Rome flight'. It was likewise for long haul destinations. CheapFlights achieved 95% share of visibility for the 3.1 million searches made in June, 4% of which were for the term 'Flights to New York'
  • On the domestic front, flights searches for London and Dublin were most popular. Of the 2.2 million searches conducted online, the terms 'London flight' and 'Dublin flight' accounted for 43% and 10% respectively. Visibility-wise, Ryanair, which featured outside of the top 20 most visible websites for domestic flights in March, made great strides. It achieved 56% share of voice to rank at position four in Greenlight's June league table of most visible websites for domestic flight keywords
  • Of the top 10 advertisers in paid search, nine were aggregators and agents, but just one was a direct provider: Thomson. This is consistent with Greenlight's analysis in its March report, where aggregators were more aggressive in their paid search advertising strategies for the flights industry. Overall in June, eBookers was the most visible advertiser in paid search with 72% visibility, an increase of 18% since March

(Table 1 below shows Greenlight's top 10 of the 60 most visible Flights websites in both natural and paid search. If you are unable to view it please contact the press office)

Table 1: Top 10 of the 60 most visible Flight websites in both in natural and paid search, UK

No. Website/Advertiser Natural Search Paid Search
1 cheapflights.co.uk 61% 48%
2 skyscanner.net 84% 9%
3 travelsupermarket.com 69% 23%
4 ebookers.com 17% 72%
5 opodo.co.uk 25% 56%
6 britishairways.com 46% 13%
7 expedia.co.uk 31% 28%
8 ryanair.com 50% 0%
9 thomson.co.uk 0% 47%
10 edreams.co.uk 0% 47%

Source: Greenlight

To gauge social media interaction with brands, Greenlight monitored the Facebook and Twitter accounts of the top 15 brands in its integrated league table (see Table 1, above), in order to assess how many 'fans' and 'followers' each has. Greenlight ranked brands based on the cumulative value of their 'fans' and 'followers', a score which it terms the Social Media Popularity Index (SMPI). It further analysed the proactivity of brands by considering the number of 'posts' and 'tweets' brands produced for consumers to interact with in June. Greenlight's SMPI reveals:

  • BritishAirways was the most followed brand, with a combined following of over 25,000 on Facebook and Twitter. It was also the most interactive brand, as it produced 272 'tweets' in June. Content included responses to customer queries and complaints, plus the latest news on the ongoing staff strike
  • By contrast, Expedia had a following of over 5,000 on Twitter, yet it did not produce a single 'tweet' in June and, therefore, it missed out on vital interaction with social media consumers
  • Neither FlightCentre nor Ryanair currently have official UK accounts on Facebook or on Twitter. This is a significant issue for Ryanair, as it received negative commentary on its services and its customer care on unofficial Facebook and Twitter pages. In 2009, it shut down its Twitter accounts, therefore, isolating the brand from social media interaction with consumers

(Table 2 below shows the top 5 of 15 most visible flight brands in social media. If you are unable to read it, please contact the press office)

Table 2: Top 5 of 15 most visible flight brands in social media, UK

No. Brand Greenlight SMPI Facebook Post Per Month Twitter Tweets Per Month
1 britishairways.com 25,269 0 272
2 uk.travelzoo.com 8,705 94 65
3 cheapflights.co.uk 5,676 0 5
4 expedia.co.uk 5,218 N/A 0
5 jet2.com 4,452 25 11

Source: Greenlight

Please note: If you plan to run this story online, please link any references to Greenlight via the following: http://www.greenlightsearch.com/knowledge/sector-reports/

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