Santa Clara, Calif. –– Travel search engine SideStep has announced its launch into the United Kingdom and Ireland. The UK represents the largest online travel market in Europe, and in Ireland, SideStep is the first American travel search provider to establish a presence.
The search engine now offers Europeans a look-and-book function. Also, Americans traveling abroad can now tap the travel-search resource to book additional legs of their journey, while European travelers looking to take a trip within their own countries and beyond can now turn to SideStep. European consumers will be able to search more than 100 travel providers.
Research firm PhoCusWright projects that the European online travel market will grow from $34.7 billion in 2005 to $50.6 billion in 2006. The UK represents approximately 35% of this market, and SideStep is poised to win business and drive significant change in the European online travel sector. In 2005, SideStep drove $1 billion in transactions for its travel provider partners.
SideStep differs significantly from existing online travel sites within the European market. It scans a broad network of travel resources to identify deals from online agencies, to consolidators, to airlines and car bookings.
Currently, the European online travel market is highly fragmented with many small independent airlines, hotels and car rental companies. In a recent study, SideStep found the average UK traveler checks at least five to six Web sites before booking a trip, compared to Americans who search an average of three.