Crisis? What crisis? Travellers are still travelling despite the global economic downturn and, while budgets may be tight, booking online often provides some of the best bargains. Virtually unknown a decade ago, the internet travel revolution is gathering pace, spurred on as much by customer demand as by hotels and other providers that - having shied away from third-party vendors - now see them as a low-cost method to fill beds, bar seats and restaurant tables. 'Despite the state of the economy, the desire or need to take breaks has not diminished,' said Jirapa Eawsakul, Asia Web Direct's chief executive. 'We have, however, noticed travel patterns changing. Holidaymakers are booking at the last minute more often and are looking to websites, such as Asia Web Direct, to quickly compare prices and hunt for the best deals. 'Likewise, hotels are increasingly looking to online sites as a cost effective way to distribute their rooms to these bargain-hunter holidaymakers. We are being approached by more hotels that previously did not work with third-party websites to distribute their rooms. 'The online market for hotel rooms is healthy. It is one of the best places to find deals as soon as they are offered and more people are discovering and taking advantage of this.' It is a sentiment that is being echoed through servers throughout the region. Kitty Pang, marketing manager at Zuji in Hong Kong, said: 'Online travel in Hong Kong has been growing at a healthy pace since 2003 when Zuji entered the market. Global market research company Euromonitor estimates that 20 per cent of all travel in Hong Kong is booked online and that figure will grow to 30 per cent by next year. Zuji has been experiencing healthy double-digit growth and, according to the Travel Trade Gazette, is the online travel leader in Hong Kong and Asia-Pacific.' One of the reasons travellers book online is the variety of choice - Zuji covers 400 airlines, 60,000 hotels and a plethora of packages - in addition to offering 24-hour operations and instant confirmation, all of which make for compelling reasons to book. Ms Eawsakul said: 'Booking online through sites ... gives you total control when planning your holiday. It is particularly useful for independent travellers who like to see exactly what each part of their trip costs. 'Increased speed and efficiency of the internet and the spread of broadband networks have allowed websites to provide potential travellers with more images, videos, maps and a wealth of information quickly and efficiently. On our site, potential holidaymakers can compare prices for different hotels in the region in which they are interested, find comprehensive destination guides, images and interactive maps, and feedback from other people who have stayed in the hotels. 'And booking online with instant confirmation means you don't even have to leave your desk at home or the office.' Online sites are introducing a variety of deals to make booking more attractive to travellers. Ms Pang said: 'Zuji recently launched TripSaver packaging technology that makes it easier to book packages by combining hundreds of airlines and thousands of hotels to offer millions of packages. This new technology also saves customers money, averaging out at about 30 per cent.' Zuji also stages auctions every Friday afternoon, with opening bids for holidays starting at HK$8. There is no reserve price and all proceeds of the auction go to charity. Other cut-price deals include sales of air tickets to Britain for less than HK$2,000, and to Seoul for HK$1,820. 'We'll be staging more of these crazy sales which are designed to stimulate the travel market and make holidays happen. Another example is our hotels sales promotion. Hong Kong customers can save as much as 50 per cent, and they get an additional HK$150 bonus,' Ms Pang said. Zuji is carrying its marketing initiative a stage further into cyberspace by using Facebook and Twitter. One of the main advantages of booking online is that sites such as Asia Web Direct and Zuji provide a wealth of information that travellers can browse at their convenience. They supply more information than can be absorbed in a conversation and, if travellers need to know more or want to research another destination, with a few more clicks they can find everything they need to know. Ms Eawsakul said: 'Most importantly, Asia Web Direct is a trusted brand. We started in 1995 with Phuket.com and now have more than 100 sites on destinations throughout Asia with quality information written by our team of writers. Our locally based staff also work with hotels all over the region to ensure we offer consumers the best deals.'