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The 10 best online travel agencies in 2023

23 Dec 2022 13 MIN READ

Brought to you by TravelPerk, the #1 business travel platform.

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Booking travel is tough. There are a lot of moving parts, juggling multiple trips, itineraries, invoices, and expenses—it can pile up fast. 

Many are turning to travel agencies to get their job done. Whether you’re keeping things between Toronto and Québec or taking travel across the pond, we’ve lined up the ten travel agencies you need to consider for travel in 2023.

What are online travel agencies?

An Online Travel Agency (OTA) is a website that sells services related to travel. It enables customers to make hotel and travel reservations from one single platform. They're the digital equivalent of a travel agent.

Examples of online travel agencies include Expedia, Booking.com, and Agoda. Some OTAs—such as Kiwi.com—specialize in one single service. Others—like Skyscanner—do it all.

How do online travel agencies work?

Online travel agencies (OTAs) can be used by the general public for leisure travel and by organizations for business travel. The platforms differ in what they offer, but the premise remains the same: to facilitate travel and its associated admin and costs.

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.

OTAs work by providing a streamlined approach to all things travel. It involves the customer accessing a website or platform on which they’re offered a variety of travel options from different travel and accommodation providers. 

If the airlines and hotels are the sheep, OTAs are the shepherds—they gather and present all the necessary details for consumers to make a travel decision.

5 Reasons to book with an online travel agency

An online travel agency comes with a host of advantages. A few reasons businesses use agencies to help book their travel are: 

  1. Help secure the best price on the market 
  2. Support with cancellations and changes 
  3. Cater for all types of travel for your trip 
  4. Share rewards programs businesses benefit from
  5. Agencies are experts in their field 

With the advantages on the table, there are a few things you’ll need to look out for when considering a travel agency to help take your business travel plans up a gear. Let’s explore each in a little more detail. 

Check if they can guarantee the best prices: saying they’re able to beat any price on the market and actually doing it are two very different things. Make sure your prospective travel agency is able to offer you the best deals and how they go delivering on their promise. 

Ask about their cancellation and changes policies: you’ll often need to read the small print when it comes to this, it’s something that trips up many businesses when it’s too late. Get a clear idea of their cancellation policies and how much money you’ll be able to get back.  

Get an overview of what types of travel they include: travel doesn’t stop at hotels and flights. It’s always a good idea to check if your travel agency covers rail, boat, car rentals, serviced apartments and other ways of travelling that may be most cost-efficient for you.  

Understand the rewards programs you’ll benefit from: a few agencies will have unique rewards programs for your business to benefit from. These can be anything from winning back air miles through to VIP upgrades with specific hotels or airlines. Figure out what these are as these can be a game-changer when it comes to decision-making.  

Check third-party reviews of the platform: reading on-site reviews of the travel agency you’re leaning towards are often very different from the reviews you’ll  read on third-party reviewing platforms. An agency may claim they’re the best travel expert for your budget, but double-check that with customer reviews!

That’s everything you need to consider out of the way, let’s explore the best online travel agencies in 2023 and get your next trip on track.  

The top 10 online travel agencies for 2023

First, let’s separate our top ten online travel agencies into leisure travel and business travel solutions. They offer different solutions to different customers so there's little point in grouping them together. Here’s who we’ll cover:

OTAs for leisure travel:

  1. Booking.com
  2. Agoda
  3. Lastminute.com
  4. Expedia
  5. Hotwire
  6. Skyscanner
  7. Kiwi.com

OTAs for business travel:

  1. TravelPerk
  2. SAP Concur
  3. BCD Travel 

 Let’s get this show on the road.

Best online travel agencies for leisure travel

First, let’s take a look at online travel agencies for leisure travel. These are websites used by the everyday user to book their next big holiday or family vacation—in, or outside, of Canada.

Note: We’ve included our top picks for OTAs that specialize in flights at the bottom of this section if you’d prefer to jump ahead.

1. Booking.com

Booking.com is the world’s largest accommodation booking website. It offers customers the chance to book their travel and car rental, too. It enables travellers to explore different accommodation types, vacation rentals and hotels, international destinations, and deals. It’s a comprehensive OTA for the everyday traveller.

Main offerings and features: 

  • Intuitive booking tool and website
  • Flight + hotel booking for easily planning trips without needing to travel websites
  • Simple car rental options and taxi hire
  • Available in over 40 different languages and offers over half a million properties across 220 countries
  • You can book experiences in your destination city to entertain you on your travels
  • Genius rewards program

Overall, booking.com is a comprehensive online travel agency with hotels and flights anywhere in the world. That being said, you’ll need to concentrate—it often gets criticized for its overwhelming UI!

2. Agoda

Agoda is a fast-growing OTA that’s especially popular in Asia—for good reason. The platform—which specializes in providing accommodation—employs Market Managers dedicated to ensuring the best deals for the markets Agoda serves. 

Agoda doesn’t offer much in terms of flight booking, but it's a great platform for finding accommodations—especially private homes and apartments. 

Main offerings and features: 

  • Simple interface and booking tool
  • Deals when making more than one booking
  • 39 different languages and offers a 24-hour, multilingual customer support service
  • Free cancellation within 24 hours of booking
  • Millions of reviews to help make your decision

The flight booking tool isn’t as comprehensive as some others, however, so you may want to look for a tool with wider coverage.

3. Lastminute.com

Lastminute.com is one of the top three travel companies in Europe, where geographic proximity makes city-hopping a popular choice. This OTA is a mix of what we’ve seen before—hotel bookings are made through an OTA, and flights are booked through an aggregator site.

Lastminute.com specializes in finding flight-and-hotel packages and all-inclusive vacation packages at great prices for last-minute travellers. If you’re brave enough to play chicken, lastminute.com is where you’ll find the golden egg of travel experiences.

Main offerings and features: 

  • Filter hotels according to budgets, star ratings, guest ratings, board types, and more
  • ATOL protection on flight + hotel bundles
  • Flash sales for last-minute deals
  • Payment plans to spread out the cost of travel
  • Extra entertainment booking for your trips, like theatrical productions and day trips
  • Gift cards for gifting travel

This is a great OTA for travellers who prefer to leave things to the last minute in pursuit of the best deal. You’re sure to find it here, plus a wide selection of other flight and hotel deals.

4. Expedia

Expedia has been providing travellers with access to flights, hotels, and cars since the 90s–and they’re still a strong contender today. In fact, they’re the biggest travel agency in the world. Hotels.com, trivago, Travelocity—they’re all owned by Expedia, so you know you’re unlikely to find a better deal elsewhere.

Main offerings and features:

  • Expedia rewards for hotels, cars, and more
  • Experienced support 
  • Compare cruise lines
  • Big savings when booking flights, hotels, and car
  • Operates in nearly 70 countries and over 35 different languages
  • Luxury travel options

Expedia is a particularly good option for those wanting to pay for flights, accommodation, and car rental in one go.

5. Hotwire

Hotwire is another long-standing online travel agency—it’s been around since 2000. It’s known for its ‘secret deals’, in which travellers get a great deal on a trip they know very little about. It requires some flexibility, but it’s a great way for adventurous types to travel on a small budget.

Main offerings and features: 

  • Book hotels, flights, cars, and bundles
  • 24/7 support
  • Lower prices when booking wit the travel app
  • Great last-minute deals for spontaneous travel

If you’re booking last minute, consider doing it with Hotwire. You’ll notice Tripadvisor didn’t make the cut, reason being: it’s no longer as popular as it used to be so many reviews are outdated and no longer relevant. 

Best online travel agencies for flights

1. Skyscanner

Skyscanner is an aggregator site—it uses a metasearch engine to compare prices from all OTAs, airlines, hotels, and car rental companies. Skyscanner often finds the best prices and helps travellers make big savings on flights and accommodation.

Once you make your decision, you’ll be taken from the Skyscanner website to the third party’s booking form to complete the booking process and secure the airfare.

Main offerings and features: 

  • Flexible booking filters
  • Cheaper flights and hotels than other OTAs
  • Price alerts for travel routes of interest
  • Easy-to-use booking tool and UI
  • Hundreds of locations and currency options
  • One-way, return, and multi-city travel options

Skyscanner is trusted by millions of people to find the best deals with the most flexibility. Possibly one of the most famous travel booking sites, it essentially gathers all the offers from every OTA to present customers with the best deals available.

2. Kiwi.com

Kiwi.com is doing things differently. Kiwi.com is an aggregator site that finds the best multi-city deals available and covers you in case you’re unable to make a connecting flight. 

It offers consistently low prices and travel insurance for multi-city travel.

Main offerings and features: 

  • Simple flight booking tool
  • Partnerships with Booking.com and Rentalcars.com
  • Discover deals anywhere with the option to open up your search
  • Easy-to-use travel app

Kiwi.com is an innovative OTA—perfect for city-hoppers and the travel-hungry. Be wary, though—some reviews claim that cancellation is tricky and customer service can be unreliable.

You’ll notice Kayak didn’t make the list. The company has received a lot of negative reviews surrounding customer service, which means it doesn’t make the cut. 

Best online travel agencies for business travel

Now, let’s take a look at the top online travel agencies for corporate travel. There’s plenty going all-in, but we’ve compiled our top three.

1. TravelPerk

TravelPerk is a modern solution for modern corporate travel. Its easy-to-use OTA is a refreshing change from the clunky UI often associated with business travel. TravelPerk enables you to make flexible bookings for employees, and even offers the option to offset your carbon footprint with its optional feature: GreenPerk. 

This platform is more than just an OTA; it’s a comprehensive corporate travel management tool that helps your team book, manage, and report on business travel. TravelPerk ensures employees are travelling stress-free on the cheapest flights available, at no sacrifice to experience.

Main offerings and features: 

TravelPerk gives employees access to the information and the security they need to travel with peace of mind. It gives organizations and travel managers access to the best corporate travel rates they won’t find on the market.

Start saving money on business travel for your company today!

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2. SAP Concur

SAP Concur has been around for years—since 1993—and is trusted by many businesses to provide comprehensive business travel solutions. Its technology is self-owned and managed, meaning there’s no back and forth with third parties for changes or updates.

Main offerings and features: 

  • Works with some of the biggest brands
  • Easy tracking and reporting of expenses for expense reports
  • Many connected apps, such as Uber and Airbnb for cars and hotels
  • One solution for a variety of business travel spending

SAP Concur is a great tool for organizations looking for a traditional approach to business travel. However, it requires patience–the platform takes 6-8 weeks to implement and user onboarding in order to make the most of it. 

Plus, some users report that the UI is outdated, making it a less enjoyable experience for business travellers.

Click below to compare both platforms’ features and benefits

Why choose TravelPerk over SAP Concur?

3. BCD Travel

BCD Travel offers solutions for most business travel programs. Founded in 2006, BCD Travel provides businesses with experts and a tech stack to keep travelling employees safe, productive and making the best financial decisions for a business’s finances. 

Main offerings and features: 

  • Meetings and events management
  • Tripsource: to bring all travel needs into one app 
  • GetGoing: a travel solution providing access to experts
  • Alert: to ensure travel managers are alerted on the things they need to know about 

BCD has a wealth of options to help you book and manage your travel. However, the problem is all of these options do not easily come together. It means the traveller’s booking experience can often be disjointed as they’ll need to jump between solutions throughout their trip. 

BCD Travel’s cancellation policies are also less generous than those of TravelPerk. For example, with TravelPerk, you can cancel or make a change to your trip up to two hours before departure and get 80% of your money back—no questions asked. 

Click below to compare both platforms’ features and benefits

Why choose TravelPerk over BCD Travel?

Wrapping up the best travel agencies for 2023

That’s a wrap on the ten best travel agencies to help you secure the best online bookings. Please make your way to the nearest exit and enjoy the rest of your trip.

Whether you’re travelling for business or leisure, from Vancouver to Vienna, wherever business or your fancy takes you—we hope these tools support you in finding the best deal available. The convenience of OTAs is unmatched, and it’s up to you to make the most of your travel options.

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