What is an online travel agency?
An Online Travel Agency (OTA) is a website that sells services related to travel. It links customers to hotel, flight, car hire companies and more. Examples of online travel agencies include Expedia, Booking.com and Travelocity. Some OTAs, such as Google Flights, specialise in one single service, as opposed to all services related to travel.
OTAs are generally aimed at individual customers, rather than corporations, who use corporate travel agencies.
How does an online travel agency work?
Hotels, airlines and car hire companies pay online travel agencies to appear on their website. On the other hand, the advantage for the service provider is the added visibility that OTAs can provide.
What are the advantages of an online travel agency?
The main advantage of using an OTA is that you can quickly and easily compare prices of accommodation, flights and more. Most have search filters and comparison tools so you can target your search.
Another benefit to booking through an online travel agency is the review system, whereby users leave ratings and written reviews for future customers. These reviews are often only available after a user has booked a service, so they are reliable.
To be featured on an online travel agency, hotels, airlines and other service providers must adhere to the OTA’s cancellation policy. All of the information is clearly laid out for the customer in an email, which makes it very user-friendly.
One account for all of your travel needs
Once you have used an OTA several times, it becomes very intuitive. You can also use one account for all your different travel needs, saving the hassle of entering details.
OTAs personalize things like measurements and currencies to adapt to the user’s settings. Consequently, independently run establishments who may not have the resources to adapt their website internationally can compete.
Is an online travel agency cheaper than booking directly?
An OTA’s main advantage is providing a wide array of choice, not providing an inexpensive service. As they need to cover maintenance costs, they are often not as cheap as booking directly.