Nielsen//NetRatings: July Web Traffic to Car Rental Sites Up

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A Nielsen//NetRatings study released yesterday found more than 4.5 million consumers in July logged on to car rental brand Web sites from home and work.

Hertz led the sites, attracting more than 1.75 million visitors from home and work. Traffic was up 2 percent, from 1.71 million visitors in July 2002. Avis came in second, with 1.48 million visitors, up 26 percent from 1.18 million a year ago.

"The car rental market is an oft-forgotten success story in the online travel industry," Nielsen//NetRatings senior Internet analyst Patrick Thomas said in a statement from New York.

"The top brands are utilizing the Internet to provide reservation tools as well as offering consumers Internet-only prices, especially for leisure rentals," he said. "Car rental brands are currently receiving a large volume of reservations from online agencies, but they need to better understand and service visitors to their own Web sites."

While Hertz and Avis took top spots, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Budget, Thrifty Car Rental, Alamo, Dollar Rent A Car and were the next most visited sites in that order.

For example, Enterprise saw a 33 percent jump in July traffic to 1.25 million visitors, from 943,000 in the same month a year ago. Thrifty posted a 53 percent increase to 836,000 visitors, from 548,000 in July 2002.

But not all sites gained. July traffic to Alamo dropped 12 percent in July to 809,000 and was down 9 percent to 708,000.

An estimated 40.8 million consumers over age 18, or 28 percent of the U.S. online population, rented a car for travel in the past three months, according to Nielsen//NetRatings. An estimated 74.4 million online users also stayed in a hotel room in the same period and 64 million Internet users flew.

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