Online Travel Agents (OTAs)
OTAs only operate online and act like a travel agent. They mainly deal direct with the customer and tourism product. Customers can purchase a product or an entire holiday package online, offering a convenient one stop shop.
OTA’s product reviews are a valuable source of information for customers when researching destinations and looking for inspiration on where to stay and what to do.
Forbes.com estimates that consumers are inundated with 4000-10,000 ads every single day. OTAs should be considered part of your broader marketing and distribution strategy so travellers can easily find you. You only pay the OTA a commission once someone books your product or service.
Get to know your Online Travel Agents (OTAs)
For the best results for your business, work collaboratively and in partnership with your OTAs. Below are some suggested questions to ask OTAs and recommendations on how to effectively work with them.
Target market and audience
OTAs promote their online booking tools to different markets. It is important to ascertain who their target market is.
• who is the OTA’s audience?
• what demographic are they speaking to?
• what country do they primarily target?
• is it a reputable OTA? What specific marketing do they do for your style of business?
• if any, what languages will your information be translated into?
• what are the OTA’s booking trends and lead times?
• how can you get in contact with your customers?
• are there any guest messaging tools available (i.e. for last minute interactions)?\
Payments and cancellations
• what currencies does the OTA transact in?
• does the OTA take different forms of payments?
• what commission are you expected to pay?
• is the commission negotiable?
• what are their payment terms?
• what are their unique terms and conditions?
• what are their cancellation and flexibility expectations?
Recommendations to effectively work with OTAS:
• regularly update your listing and the content
• actively manage your product availability and block out dates
• learn to use the back end of the OTA platform to review consumer behaviour interacting with your listing
• review your rates regularly
• consider offering peak and off peak rates
• outline your COVID-19 safety plan and expectations
• read OTA contracts to ensure you understand the contract before signing
• be a proactive supplier and check in with your OTA
• keep communication lines open
• be proactive with reviews - incentivise reviews
• optimise listings
• don’t be afraid to say no
• interrogate and interview your OTA
• stay as bookable as possible even if the future is uncertain
• build travellers trust.
Can you offer different rates reflecting different cancellation policies? For example, the more flexibility, the higher the rate. Stay data driven. Look at recent data then work out your cancellation policy.
• a flexible 24 hour cancellation policy doesn’t necessarily mean more cancellations, it can mean more bookings
• review your cancellation policy. How many cancellations are you getting within 24 hours? How many cancellations are you getting within 7 days?
• can you tailor your cancellation policy?
• according to Klook.com they have more bookings cancel at 7 days than 24 hours (not a rule, simply an observation… it’s a changing landscape)
• if your business or listing is in hibernation, you’re not open for the dreamers
• it is better to have limited availability than not be found
• don’t pull down – stay listed and manage your availability
Customer decision making journey and the importance of OTAs
According to Expedia.com, before making a travel decision the average traveller completes:
• 50 online searches
• 38 site visits
• reads 12 reviews
• does 15 weeks of research
According to Siteminder.com, OTAs are the preferred method of booking trips and accommodation for the majority of travellers.
If you are relying on your website and social channels alone and not regularly taking on review feedback, your product or service may not be considered.
For more information
If you would like to discuss your distribution strategy further please email [email protected] and one of our team will be in touch.