Online Travel Agencies or Direct Bookings - Do we really need both?

Online Travel Agency

Whilst OTA's have been growing for many years, we're seeing an increase in consumers booking through OTA's, rather than direct. So, what can OTA's do for you? Why should you use them, and do you really need them? We're here to answer all your burning questions on listing your attraction on an OTA and, what this could mean. 

What is an OTA?

Cast your mind back to when websites like Expedia, Get Your Guide and Tripadvisor didn't exist. Feels pretty foreign, but there was a time when most bookings were made directly by walk-up sales or on the attraction's website. Today, there's a multitude of places where we can find things to do, where to stay and what to book. 

We've all been there, we're planning a holiday break and we want to know what are the local things to do in our place of interest. So you're likely to Google, 'things to do in Cornwall', in which case, you'll get loads of results, some of which will be from an Online Travel Agency. 

An OTA is a digital marketplace which allows customers to book activities, tours, events, hotels and travel all in one place. Generally, an OTA allows customers to narrow down their choices by entering a geographical search or by filtering what they would like to do or see. They allow the customer to book, through the OTA and confirm their booking. Often, consumers can and will create an entire trip itinerary and book it within an OTA. 

Some of the most popular online marketplaces are; Expedia, Get Your Guide, TXGB and Musement. However, there are hundreds of online marketplaces globally that you could potentially connect to. 

So why should you use an OTA?

According to Business Wire, two out of three consumers will use an OTA to either research a trip or book. So, you're probably thinking, that's a lot of people reached! Here's one of the main reasons you should consider using OTAs, simply for the vast amount of global reach they bring. For instance, in 2019 Expedia was ranked to have 18.8 million users in total, and that's just one marketplace out of the many that are out there. Even with the best marketing team in the world, it's unlikely that you'll get an organic reach that can match the marketplace titans. Plus, OTA's are also likely to receive visits from audiences that might not have ever visited your site directly. 

The exposure from OTA's can be a driving factor to sign up with them and you're likely to get direct sales from marketplaces too. They are also much more accessible to overseas travellers who won't know what they want to do, but you'll appear in their search criteria. 

Key points to remember

There are of course some key things to keep in mind when partnering with an OTA. The biggest drawback to working with an online marketplace is that they all charge some kind of commision on ticket sales. This can be between 10% and up to a whopping 30% of the ticket price, which can really squeeze your profits. Secondly, you're less likely to have control over the customer service side of your ticketing, meaning that customers may have to go to the OTAs for any changes, which can affect how you control your visitors online experience.

What about direct bookings? 

Well, the key points are that you get to keep 100% of the money! There's no comission with direct bookings so you'll make much more of a profit, but you'll likely have to work harder to get people there. You'll also get much more control over the redemptions process too. Finally any customer service can be dealt with by you in house. 

So, if you're thinking about using an OTA then there are huge benefits to it. The best way forward is to use a Channel Manager to ensure that you get much more control over your ticketing. You can find out all about Channel Management in another blog too. 


Posted By

Tara Beacroft

6th March, 2023

Posted By

Tara Beacroft

6th March, 2023

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