According to Hitwise, an internet market research firm, Expedia Canada is the most popular travel website in Canada followed by WestJet.ca. Surprisingly, Canada’s largest airline, Air Canada, lagged behind in the internet traffic to that of the WestJet.
The traffic up until October 2009, however, paints a different picture. In fact, a comparison of the traffic to the Canadian travel websites reveals that www.expedia.ca is a runner up to the leader www.aircanada.com, which attracts traffic to both www.aircanada.ca and www.aircanada.com. The traffic to www.westjet.com competes at equal footing with www.expedia.ca.
When one takes a closer look at the traffic recorded in the October, one finds a peaking on Wednesdays in the traffic to Air Canada's website:
The traffic data for November 2009 are not available from Google Trends. It will be interesting to compare the data against HitWise once Google updates the database to see why Air Canada has scored poorly with HitWise.
Since West Jet is an Alberta-based airline, it carries more clout and prominence in Alberta. Whereas Air Canada being the national flag carrier, it should have a more Canada-wide appeal where the traffic to its website should be proportionate to provincial populations such that the highest traffic to be generated by the most populace province, i.e., Ontario and the least traffic be generated by the least populace province, Prince Edward Island. This bears out in the following graphics where traffic to the WestJet website is disproportionately high in Alberta.
Notice that though Quebec is the second most populace province, it lags behind the third most populace province, British Columbia. The discrepancy is explained partially by the fact that French is the dominant language spoken in Quebec and Internet usage is different in Quebec than it is in the rest of Canada.
Meanwhile, the cyclical nature of tourism based travel in Canada is presented to the graph below. Canadians travel primarily during the Christmas season and summer. The graph below reveals the rising trend as of late 2006 to mid 2008. However, owing partially to the recession blues, the interest in tourism based travel has been down this year, apart from a peak in July 2009 when the interest in travel improved by 10%, keeping in line with the summer travel interest observed in the previous years.