By Barbara De Lollis, USA TODAY

Watch for airlines to make a bigger push to win your hotel business.

The percentage of commercial airline fliers booking their hotel rooms on airline websites surged to new levels this year as people grow increasingly comfortable with booking their trips online, an airline-backed survey of international fliers says.

An unheard-of 38% of fliers surveyed say they booked their hotel room on an airline website this year, vs. 21% in 2009, according to the fifth annual SITA/Air Transport World Passenger Self-Service Survey.

Based on results, SITA is urging airlines to give their customers more ways – whether over the web or via mobile – to book hotels and other travel necessities, such as car rentals, to increase revenue.

Airline-owned SITA works on information and communications technology for member airlines around the world such as American Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, Delta Air Lines and Continental.

“The message from passengers is that airlines should implement a multi-channel approach to direct customer service not just for flights but also for ancillary services such as hotel bookings and car hire,” Cathy Stam, SITA’s marketing director, says.

SITA designed the study to examine the attitudes and habits of a sample of the 288 million passengers who use the seven leading airports around the globe, including Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson; Mumbai International; Moscow Domodedovo, and Sao Paulo Guarulhos.

Survey results are based on interviews conducted at departure gates with 2,490 passengers flying on 106 airlines. Main nationalities interviewed were American, 17%; Indian, 12%; Chinese, 12%; Brazilian, 11%; German, 8%; others, 23%.

Besides hotel stays, airline passengers are also increasingly using airline websites to book their rental cars, with the percentage this year at 35% vs. last year’s 19%, the survey says.

Airlines are also seeing similar surges in revenue from the purchase of travel insurance, bus and train tickets, and rental cars.

How often to travelers book their trips online and, therefore, notice that an airline website offers them the chance to book their hotel room? According to the survey, 74% of respondents booked their flights online when making their own arrangements. Passengers at the Atlanta and Beijing airports were the most frequent users of online booking, the survey says.

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