REDMOND, Wash. — March 1, 2006 — According to a recent survey commissioned by MSN and conducted by Harris Interactive®, approximately three-quarters of U.S. adult respondents who have ever taken a vacation say they visit three or more Web sites when researching and/or booking their vacation plans. The most useful resources as cited by vacationers in the MSN survey were research/guides with information on what to do and see (71 percent), airline and hotel fare comparisons (68 percent), and travel/news articles (45 percent). Now consumers can access those resources and discover a comprehensive trip-planning experience at the newly relaunched beta version of the MSN® Travel Web site (http://travel.msn.com).
In the MSN survey, consumers were asked what types of information they would consider most useful when researching and/or booking their vacation plans, and 71 percent chose “research/guides with information about what to do and see.” Comparisons of airline and hotel fares also drew a favorable response from 68 percent of vacationers who said this would be useful, while 45 percent said they find travel/news articles useful. Further, of the 1,844 surveyed adults who have ever taken a vacation, more than three-quarters said they approximately spend less than $2,000 on average while on vacation.
“The overall survey results suggested that travelers find the Web to be most useful as an information source, particularly those who want to stretch their vacation dollars as well as find out how to make the most of their time when visiting a new destination,” said Jim Quilty, vice president of travel and tourism at Harris Interactive. “The fact that three out of four vacationers spread their online research across multiple Web sites — with some visiting 10 or more — points to the huge timesaving benefits that a truly full-featured online travel planning site can deliver.”
To address consumers’ needs, MSN has relaunched a beta version of its MSN Travel Web site, which provides an end-to-end selection of content that will inspire consumers with information about where to vacation while saving time and money. MSN Travel visitors have access to more than 78,000 pages of content from the following partners:
The Associated Press will provide timely travel articles and in-depth features to MSN Travel each week.
Dorling Kindersley Publishing will provide content from its well-known Eyewitness Top 10 Travel Guides within relevant MSN Travel channel destination guides.
Expedia.com, previously the exclusive provider of booking on MSN Travel, will continue on the new MSN Travel channel, which will also now include other brands in the Expedia Inc. family of leading travel sites such as Hotels.com™, Hotwire.com® and TripAdvisor.com™, giving consumers more travel booking and content options from the MSN Travel channel.
Frommer’s® publishes the No. 1-selling travel guide series in North America and will provide content for 3,500 destination guides to MSN Travel that feature expert ratings and in-depth reviews of accommodations, restaurants, shopping, night life and attractions.
ShermansTravel.com, a leading travel deals and advice Web site, will provide in-depth Spotlight articles on popular destinations such as Las Vegas, the Caribbean, and London, plus top 10 lists such as “Hotel Bars” and “Beaches We Love.”
Travel + Leisure (T+L), the world’s leading travel magazine, will provide its award-winning content to MSN Travel each month. T+L articles will feature insider information on up-and-coming locations and classic destinations, such as “The World’s Best Hotels,” “Where to Go Next: Paris” and “Hidden Hawaii” — all of which can be accessed directly within related destination guides as well as from the MSN Travel channel home page.
TripAdvisor.com will provide access to more than 3 million user ratings and reviews for hotels, resorts, inns, dining and attractions.
With the new MSN Travel site, consumers can also search for and compare airline fares, lodging rates, car rental costs and other pricing details from Expedia®.com, Hotels.com and Hotwire.com all in one place. Visitors can easily finalize their reservations from a module on the main booking pages, or they can click on special offers featured alongside various destination guides and travel articles on the site. MSN Travel also will provide access to weather reports, airport information and other details that can help minimize travel hassles, including slide shows, travel videos and ratings, reviews and message board discussions from MSN users.
“People who work hard all year to earn their vacation time shouldn’t have to spend time visiting multiple sites to assemble the pieces of their dream getaway,” said John Nicol, general manager of MSN. “The new MSN Travel builds upon our extensive partnerships with many of the world’s largest and most trusted leisure-travel industry advisers to create a more relevant, personalized and convenient trip-planning experience for consumers.”
The relaunch of MSN Travel exemplifies Microsoft Corp.’s plans for reinvigorating MSN.com under the leadership of Nicol. Not only will the additional content provide a more complete user experience for consumers than ever before, it also will increase opportunities for MSN partners to deliver news and information about special travel promotions and discounts.
Harris Interactive® fielded the study on behalf of the MSN Feb. 10–14, 2006, via its QuickQuerySM online omnibus, interviewing a nationwide sample of 2,045 U.S. adults 18 and older, of whom 1,844 have ever taken a vacation (referred to as “vacationers” in this release). Data were weighted to be representative of the total U.S. adult population on the basis of region, age within gender, education, household income, race/ethnicity, and hours spent online per week. The sampling error for the overall vacationers sample results is plus or minus 3 percentage points. This online sample was not a probability sample.
About Harris Interactive
Harris Interactive Inc. (www.harrisinteractive.com), based in Rochester, New York, is the 13th largest and the fastest-growing market research firm in the world, most widely known for The Harris Poll® and for its pioneering leadership in the online market research industry. Long recognized by its clients for delivering insights that enable confident business decisions, the Company blends the science of innovative research with the art of strategic consulting to deliver knowledge that leads to measurable and enduring value.
Harris Interactive serves clients worldwide through its United States, Europe (www.harrisinteractive.com/europe) and Asia offices, its wholly owned subsidiary Novatris in Paris, France (www.novatris.com), and through an independent global network of affiliate market research companies.
About MSN and Windows Live
MSN attracts more than 440 million unique users worldwide per month. With localized versions available globally in 42 markets and 21 languages, MSN is a world leader in delivering compelling programmed content experiences to consumers and online advertising opportunities to businesses worldwide. Windows Live™, a new set of personal Internet services and software, is designed to bring together in one place all the relationships, information and interests people care about most, with enhanced safety and security features across their PC, devices and the Web. MSN and Windows Live will be offered alongside each other as complementary services. Some Windows Live services entered an early beta phase on Nov. 1, 2005; these and future beta updates can be found at http://ideas.live.com. MSN is located on the Web at http://www.msn.com. MSN worldwide sites are located at http://www.msn.com/worldwide.ashx.
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