What are people searching for in the travel category?

Hitwise collects data.  A lot of data.  They observe behavior and patterns.  One of the top industries that they track is the travel industry.

One pattern that has not changed substantially over the past 3 years [the time that I’ve been tracking it], is the percentage of search that is devoted to the drive market.  Out of the top 10 search terms in the travel category, six of them have to do with maps and driving directions.

This is not at all surprising, particularly when 85% of all trips over 75 miles from home in the US are by car, and not by air, and 78% of all overnight trips are by car.

What is surprising to me (still…..) is that the mainstream travel community (online, offline, technology providers, GDS) still focus on the 15% of overnight travelers that fly and virtually ignore the traveler that drives.

Could this still just be the “Irresistable Pull of Rational Behavior” that I wrote about in August of 2008?

I would love to hear some feedback on this topic.