Visits to mapping web sites have grown 26% in the last year, according to analysis from Hitwise UK. This growth bodes well for the travel industry, as around a fifth of online map users go on to visit travel agency sites.
The analysis suggests that people are using online maps for various commercial purposes - not simply to look at satellite pictures of their house or find their way to a party. The top downstream site for the new Google Maps site was travel site Expedia, while the most popular destination for Multimap visitors was Teletext Holidays, followed by Active Hotels and Expedia. Hitwise also found that 25 of the top 30 search terms that led to Google Maps were commercial, including 'hotel', 'estate agents', 'cinema' and 'bed and breakfast'.
Heather Hopkins, Research Director at Hitwise UK, points out that the commercial value of map sites is not limited to the travel sector, suggesting that 'flats for rent, cash points and petrol stations could also be plotted on online maps'.
The company is online at www.hitwise.co.uk