February 12, 2010 08:30 ET

BlueKai's Pulse Index Shows Online Travel Intent Actions Rose Sharply in January

SEATTLE, WA--(Marketwire - February 12, 2010) - BlueKai, the online industry's first intent-focused, auction-based data exchange and online marketing's largest source of user intent data, reports that the volume of online flight search actions increased by 45% from December 2009 to January 2010, with activity for domestic destinations up 44% and international destinations up 48%. This was just one of the findings in the third installment of the BlueKai Pulse, an analysis of data from the BlueKai Data Exchange, which aggregates intent data from over 160 million unique users on top-tier e-commerce, online travel agency and auto comparison sites.

This installment specifically examines more than 40 million travel booking intent actions in December 2009 and January 2010. Travel booking intent actions are defined as trip configurations for flights, hotels, car rentals, cruises, or vacation packages on travel websites. The intent actions captured by the BlueKai Exchange include strictly low-funnel purchase activities such as price search by auto make and model, travel destination search by airport or city, or activity on price comparison sites. Interest data such as contextual relevancy and demographic data are not considered intent. BlueKai Pulse shows the depth of intent data that is representative of 70% of total US online population, and offers a new view into user intent beyond search.

Online Shopping for Air Travel up 45% from December to January despite Recession and Airline Restrictions (see chart 1)

While a seasonal increase in travel related internet activity is expected, this year's increase in flight search activity is particularly impressive given the slowdown in travel seen in 2009. Factors contributing to the slowdown include the economic recession, new airline charges for ancillary services such as baggage and food, and widely known security-related issues in December. The 45% increase in flight search actions in January suggests that consumers are still actively showing their intent to travel by shopping for the best deals, and bodes well for stronger category performance in 2010.

Domestic trips made up 67% of researched flight search actions, while international trips made up 33% of intent actions. This ratio was unchanged from December to January. Las Vegas continued to be the leading domestic destination, with nearly 10% of all flight search actions in January, with volume of flight searches to Las Vegas increasing by 67.7% from December. Florida destinations, including Orlando, Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Tampa also showed larger than average gains in volume in January versus December.

As with flight activity, domestic vacation packages were more popular with shoppers, making up 61% of vacation package intent actions in January 2010. Once again Las Vegas topped the list, comprising more than one third of all domestic vacation package intent actions. Orlando, Florida, home of Walt Disney World, comprised 10%. Other popular warm weather destinations included Oahu, Maui, and Fort Lauderdale. All showed impressive increases in intent activity in January over December.

No One Dominant International City (see chart 2)

Unlike domestic travel, there was no one dominant international city that travelers tended to consider most often. The tropical destinations of Cancun, Mexico; San Juan, Puerto Rico; and San Jose, Costa Rica proved to be popular with travel shoppers, and European destinations including London, Barcelona, Madrid, Amsterdam and Frankfurt were also included in the top ten.

"The new level of intelligence that BlueKai's data aggregation brings us is a phenomenal leap forward in the way we understand and interpret online travel behavior," says Jill Groebl, Vice President of Digital Marketing for BlueKai partner MMG Worldwide, a $100 million travel and hospitality marketing firm. "This kind of insight is invaluable in helping us counsel our clients in how to approach and react to the ever-changing online travel market."

Cost-Conscious Travelers Seek Vacation Packages, Caribbean Destinations Most Popular (see chart 3)

Examination of nearly 8 million intent actions regarding vacation packages on the BlueKai Exchange in December 2009 and January 2010 suggest that travelers are increasing their consideration of vacation packages in light of economic concerns. BlueKai data showed an overall increase of 57% in volume relating to vacation packages (greater than the 45% increase in flight shopping volume) when comparing December 2009 and January 2010. Vacation packages offer discounts on air, hotel, car, and activities that would not be available if purchased separately.

Cancun, Mexico was the leading destination for international vacation packages. With the exception of Paris, France, all of the leading destinations for vacation package were those with warm weather, suggesting that travelers are actively seeking escape from a tough winter, and beginning to plan their spring vacation activities. The top nine warm weather destinations for vacation packages comprised 78% of all vacation package intent action. The overall increase in volume of international vacation package intent actions was 58% from December 2010 to January 2010, while the average increase for the leading Caribbean or Pacific destinations was much higher, as seen in chart 4.

"The intent data supports the continued price sensitivity of the US consumer, but also a consumer willing to transact at the right price. The high level of interest in booking travel packages may be a longer term trend in the marketplace," says Jordan Rohan, Managing Director, Internet and Digital Media Research at Thomas Weisel Partners.

BlueKai ( created the world's largest and highest quality online intent data exchange to better connect advertisers with their target consumers online. BlueKai aggregates valuable shopping and research activities across the Internet, offering non-personally identifiable intent data to marketers, ad networks, and publishers on over 160 million in-market retail, travel, auto shoppers and more online. Additionally through strategic partnerships with top-tier data providers -- who earn revenue in a privacy friendly way -- the BlueKai Exchange gives marketers access to over 10,000+ combinations of intent, demographic, geographic, lifestyle, B2B data and additional segments. The privately-held company is based in Bellevue, WA and is a recipient of the AlwaysOn 2009 OnMedia 100 award as a Technology Innovator in Advertising, and the OnMedia 100 Top Private Companies.

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