Cheapflights Ltd, the profitable, award-winning and leading UK and US internet travel media company, is pleased to announce that its growth over the past year has continued to achieve new record levels across all metrics, particularly in the USA.
Cheapflights pioneered neutral internet flight price search and comparison in the UK in 1996. It has enjoyed a consistent history of sustained organic growth funded entirely out of cash flow. The US site, launched in 2003 in one of the most competitive internet markets in the world, has mirrored that success. Cheapflights' global traffic has grown 19 times since current management took over in 2000. This was achieved without traditional above-the-line advertising spend.
2006 was marked not only by excellent commercial progress, but also by considerable strengthening of the management teams on both sides of the Atlantic. Cheapflights has, in addition, introduced a number of new products, including the ground-breaking and innovative Partner Portal. This allows advertising partners to analyse responses to their online offers with Cheapflights and to calibrate their advertising strategy and mix of offers to maximize overall campaign performance and deliver the best possible ROI. Another notable achievement has been the fact that Cheapflights has received nine internet or travel accolades in 2006.
January 2007 traffic in the UK reached 3.1 million unique users up 11.0% year on year despite the disposal last year of the non-core sites cheapaccommodation.co.uk, cheapshortbreaks.co.uk and cheapholidaydeals.co.uk. In the US, January traffic more than doubled year on year, up 165% to reach a record 2.5 million unique users. This ranks it at number 13 in Hitwise US's Travel Agencies category of nearly 1000 US sites. Furthermore, over 3 million telephone leads were referred to our UK advertisers in 2006. These were in addition to the pay per click leads driven to our advertisers' websites.
Record Market Share
Importantly, Cheapflights has more than maintained its market share in the Hitwise UK Travel Agencies sector, whilst in the US, market share was dramatically up:
• UK visits up from 2.47 % to 2.66 % (Year on year January 2006-2007)
• US visits up from 0.78% to 1.12% (Year on year January 2006-2007)
Market Leading Commercial Positioning
• Over the past five years, Cheapflights.co.uk has been the only travel flight price comparison site consistently to feature in the Hitwise UK Quarterly Top 10 Travel Agencies rankings. (Source: Hitwise)
• In January 2007, Cheapflights was the only travel search site in the top ten providers of leads to the Hitwise Commercial Aviation and Travel Agencies categories. (Source: Hitwise)
• More specifically, in January 2007, Cheapflights.co.uk was second only to Google in referring traffic to many leading travel companies including British Airways, XL, Airline Network, Dial a Flight, Online Travel Company. (Source: Hitwise)
• In 2006, Cheapflights accounted for nearly 1% of the £1.1 billion UK (PPC) search marketing spend. (IAB estimates)
• Additionally, in 2006, Cheapflights had an estimated 3.2% of the entire UK travel market display advertising spend. (Nielsen Media Research)
• In 2006, an estimated US$1.8 billion worth of flight sales were sold by Cheapflights' UK and US travel industry advertising partners from leads generated from Cheapflights' websites.
• Cheapflights' opt-in newsletter programme has rapidly become one of the most comprehensive UK & US travel news and deals newsletters and already has circa 3 million global subscribers.
• Cheapflights continues to be the most comprehensive independent flights price comparison site in the UK and US; over 1 million deals from hundreds of travel vendors updated daily and distilled from 10-15 million deals each day. Cheapflights tailors its deal-gathering technology to its advertisers' technology (unlike 'meta search' sites). This allows a wide base of specialist and large operators, including budget airlines, to post their flight prices on the Cheapflights websites.
• Cheapflights has been recognised in the Revolution Magazine’s Top 40 UK digital brands - and a top ten site for value (the highest travel site in that category) - ranking at No 27.
Other Commercial Progress
After ten years of successful trading, Cheapflights has invested directly into an exciting early stage global flights planner dotcom, dohop. This flights schedule search and planner site is a groundbreaking parallel business model which compliments Cheapflights' flight price search and comparison model. Dohop will continue to run as a separate business. Hugo Burge and David Soskin have also launched HOWZAT media LLP, an investment vehicle which allows Cheapflights, together with other investors, to invest in early stage and start-up dotcom opportunities. HOWZAT will bring not only funding, but also make available some of the most experienced and successful dotcom management to investee companies. HOWZAT has already announced two investments Where Are You Now?(WAYN) a travel social network site and zoomf a residential property search and information site.
Commenting, CEO David Soskin said "We are delighted with our continued strong traffic growth, particularly in the USA where we have built a superb management team. This team has already enabled us better to exploit the enormous potential of the largest travel market in the world. Internet usage for travel continues to grow each year. In fact according to recent surveys from morefocus (US) and Nielsen//NetRatings (UK), the majority of travellers in the US (58%) and the UK (55%) now plan their vacations using the Internet.
All this implies a fast growing market for our existing and our planned products in the UK and US. We expect to launch in Europe this year where internet connectivity and usage are also increasing. We intend to exploit this fertile international ground as well as drive continued organic growth in Cheapflights' existing markets."