5 benefits of using online travel agencies
5 Benefits of Using Online Travel
Online travel agents first began to emerge with Priceline.com (now Booking Holdings), Expedia Groups (as a division of Microsoft), and Ctrip (now Trip.com) leading the way. These OTAs revolutionized the travel industry and changed how travel planning was done by aggregating information from across the internet into one place for travelers to compare options, pricing, reviews, and more.
Today, many travelers begin their journey on OTA websites like Tripadvisor, Hotels.com, and Travelocity during the “dreaming phase” of travel. They use OTAs as a storefront to see what’s available on the market. At this point in their traveler journey, they are looking for inspiration and are open to various ideas, activities, and accommodation types like b&bs, boutique hotels, or hostels. Search activity is broad and destination-oriented, with travelers perusing social media channels, search engines like Google, and OTA sites to see what travel options are available.
In the planning stage, travelers use OTAs to narrow down their options, looking at factors such as amenities, pricing, and reviews. According to Yieldify, travelers spend on average more than four months researching their trip before departure and visit 38+ travel websites throughout this period. Properties must be listed on a wide variety of channels to increase their visibility and online bookings.
Learn how to get OTAs working for your property
When booking, travelers will often go directly to a hotel’s website after seeing them on multiple OTAs. This phenomenon called the “The Billboard Effect” was first documented in 2009 by the Cornell Center for Hospitality Research and is still relevant today. A 2017 Cornell study found that properties connected to 7+ channels had a 20% increase in direct bookings as travelers became more aware of these properties and trusted their legitimacy. Properties should ensure that their own website is fully optimized with an integrated booking system to help drive more direct bookings.
The Big Book of OTAs
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- Recipe for ideal channel mix
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- Directory of 75+ OTAs