Online travel agency (OTA) is a popular way for travelers to research, plan and book their travel. They are essentially the “Everything Store for Travel” and provide a variety of options to meet many different needs and budgets. They often offer package deals with airfare, hotel and car rentals. Additionally, they have tools for travelers to review hotels and compare prices. OTAs also function as a marketing and distribution channel for hotels, providing visibility and reach that a hotel’s website alone cannot achieve.
Many OTAs support their partners’ success through regionally-based account teams with extensive market knowledge and the ability to advise on tactics that will drive business results. They also offer a wide variety of tools to assist hotels with marketing and revenue management. For example, OTAs offer analytics to help hotels understand booking trends and the year-over-year performance of their properties against like hotels in their marketplace. They also share insights and data on customer behavior, including how they are finding the OTAs’ sites.
Some OTAs have focused on niche markets or specific types of travelers, such as skiers, campers and glampers, luxury travelers and more. Additionally, some OTAs offer shopping portals or other programs that reward consumers for booking through them. For example, Capital One Travel is a partner of OTAs, and its credit card customers earn 10 miles per dollar for hotel and rental car bookings. This can be a compelling incentive to encourage travelers to book through an OTA rather than directly with the hotel or airline.