Working with Online Travel Agents can help boost your sales
Online Travel Agents (OTAs) are becoming more and more important sales channels, offering an opportunity to boost your business. But, the OTA market for trips is very crowded and changes quickly as new platforms enter it. OTAs compete for customers around the globe. To sell your trips through OTAs and reach more customers, you need to do some research and choose the right ones.
The number of OTAs is growing fast. This is due to sales of online travel services growing faster than sales via traditional channels. The industry expects that by 2026, 74% of sales will be through OTAs. Most OTA sales are for accommodation and transport services. But sales of trips and experiences on OTA platforms are increasing rapidly.
Well-known OTAs, like Viator and Tripadvisor, seem like an obvious choice for local operators. But there are other specialist platforms worth considering. Nowadays, you can choose to work with platforms selling the following trips:
- Food and wine experiences;
- Community-based tourism (CBT) trips;
- Adventure tours;
- Ecotourism trips; and
- Wellness experiences.
It is important to do research so you can make an informed choice on which platform is right for your product and your customer.
Benefits and disadvantages
The benefits of working with OTAs are that they have access to a huge global market of customers. They also have large budgets to handle all the marketing and platform development costs. They are aimed at customer satisfaction and offer instant booking and payment. And they are good business partners. It is in their interest that their suppliers succeed, so they are ready to offer advice. But there are downsides to OTAs, too. Commission charges are high and likely to increase in the coming years. You should make sure that you can afford these charges and that your tour is profitable.
Alternatives to OTAs
If you do not want to rely on OTAs for all sales, focus on making direct sales. This is the most profitable way to sell travel products to consumers. Having an inspirational, easy-to-use website is the first step. European travellers are heavy internet and mobile device users. They want access to information at all times and often book online. Websites can be cheap and easy to build using online website builders. Next to boosting your sales, your website can also help you build your brand and reputation. Another way to increase your sales is to build relationships with outbound tour operators who can sell tours to larger groups.
Are you a local operator? And do you want to enter the OTA market? You can find useful tips in our latest business guide: How to work effectively with OTAs.
Acorn Tourism Consulting Limited wrote this news article for CBI.
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