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Travel Meta Search Poised to Take Off with Kayak, SideStep Merger


Travel: Just another iteration
of search

The merger of the two largest meta search engines in the travel industry, Kayak.com and SideStep.com, announced in December, will likely create critical mass for travel meta search, according to an analysis by Compete of usage levels and performance between the two sites, writes MarketingCharts.

"With low user overlap between the sites, the combined entity will attract over 5 million monthly US website visitors (significantly more in peak summer season), launching it past the traffic levels of sites like Priceline.com, Hotwire.com, and Hotels.com," writes Greg Saks in the Compete blog.

US consumers rely most on Kayak among US meta search engines: Kayak had nearly 3.2 million site visitors in seasonally slow November, whereas at its summer high was 4.2 million, in July; meanwhile, 2.7 million visitors went to SideStep.com in November, and its July high was at 3.4 million.

compete-kayak-sidestep-traffic-2005-2007.jpg

Though SideStep has been in business longer, Kayak in late 2006 took the lead just two years after its launch, and its traffic is up an average of 55 percent compared with the previous year while SideStep's is down 5 percent.

"While viral growth in traffic lowers marketing costs and has been important in fueling Kayak's rise, Meta Search Engines must invest heavily in online marketing to maintain the now multi-million consumer volume that is reaching their sites on a monthly basis," Saks writes.

Though both Kayak and SiteStep are dependent on search engine traffic, Kayak in particular is also dependent on other travel sites for its traffic, according to Compete: Some 43 percent of visits are from such sites, compared with 29 percent for SideStep, which is more dependent on traffic driven by search engine marketing.

compete-kayak-traffic-sources-nov-2007.jpg

Travel meta search engines' revenues depend on leads they provide to online travel agencies and travel suppliers. Some of the largest travel lead-generator sites are working with Kayak to generate traffic, including BookingBuddy.com, ShermansTravel.com, and Cheapflights.com, according to Compete.

Though Kayak's traffic is just 20 percent more than SideStep's, it provide more than double the number of leads to partners.

Much more info is available at the Complete blog.

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