Working with different selling techniques and channels is necessary for most tour and activities operators.
There are many ways to promote your tours. You can advertise your website on Google My Business, Social Media, and OTAs. Websites like TripAdvisor and Viator are key distribution channels; Tripadvisor, for example, has over 1 billion reviews and opinions of nearly 8 million businesses. Travelers are reaching out to OTAs for information, comparison, and bookings.
To help you make the best of working with Online Travel Agents (OTAs), in this blog, you'll learn about how they work, their benefits, and how they can increase your bookings.
What are Online Travel Agents (OTAs), and how they work
Let's start from the beginning; after all, what are OTAs? Online Travel Agents are websites or platforms that allow travelers to book travel-related services; this includes flights, rental cars, tours, activities, hotel rooms, and vacation packages. Some popular OTAs include Expedia, Booking.com, Travelocity, and Kayak.
OTAs offer many benefits for travelers; here are some:
- Travelers can compare their preferences, budget, and travel dates with different operators in a user-friendly way and choose the most suitable tour.
- They can book and pay all in one place - e.g., the flight, hotel, and activities. According to research by Travelport, 45% of travelers prefer booking the entire travel experience - flights, accommodation, car rental, and extras - on a single website.
- OTAs usually offer great customer support, helping travelers with any queries, changes, or cancellations to their bookings.
- Find the best option through genuine and reliable reviews that previous customers left.
In general, the intention of OTAs it's to make it easier for travelers to find, compare, and book travel services from different suppliers in one place.
Benefits of working with OTAs for tour operators
While we learned the perks of booking through OTAs for travelers, tour operators can also take advantage of the websites and platforms.
Here are some benefits of working with online travel agents (OTAs) for tour and activity operators:
- Increase your visibility. One of the best benefits for tour operators when working with an OTA is the increased visibility to a broader audience of potential customers. Keep in mind that OTAs often have large marketing budgets and established online platforms that attract more travelers when compared with your website, for example.
- Find new partners to work with. OTAs can offer tour operators access to their extensive network of other travel industry partners, which can help reach new travelers and grow the business.
- For those who don't have a booking solution, OTAs offer a simplified booking. Online agents often offer easy-to-use booking systems that streamline the booking process for tour operators and their customers.
- Improve your customer experience. As we mention, many OTAs offer customer service support, which can help tour operators provide a better overall customer experience. This is particularly useful for small tour operators who may need more resources to offer extensive customer support on their own.
- Stay competitive in the travel industry. OTAs often provide competitive pricing, which can help operators attract customers who are looking for the best deals.
While working with online agents has many perks, remember that OTAs earn a commission or a fee for each booking made through their platform. This means that only some of the booking price will come directly to you.
To know more about getting bookings from your website, read OTA vs Direct Booking: what is the best option in 2022.
Top travel agencies in the world: OTAs you can work with
Before working with any OTAs, keep in mind that you need to research the best option for your business and read the agreements, such as policies for refund and cancellation, terms and conditions, and all the relevant information, so you don't experience any unpleasant surprises.
You can learn more by reading the article 10 tips to make more money with OTAs.
They provide travelers with flights, hotels, vacation packages, vacation rentals, cruises, activities, attractions, and services. For activities providers, they offer to show your experience through "Expedia Local Expert" to visitors who want to explore your location.
The Expedia Group, Inc, 2022, had a global revenue of 11.7 billion U.S. dollars. The group subsidiaries many websites, such as Expedia.com, Vrbo, Hotels.com, CarRentals.com, CheapTickets, Hotwire.com, Orbitz, Travelocity, and trivago.
This OTA focuses its services on tours and activities, and they offer to reach over 455 million visitors. According to the website, "Viator is a platform that lets you create experiences that travelers worldwide can book, whether it's guided tours or surfing lessons.".
To create a profile in Viator, you must have a Tripadvisor profile.
A platform that offers travel experiences. They offer tour and activities providers to reach a global audience, and according to GetYourGuide "gain access to 50 million visitors per month from 190+ countries with your products optimized in 14 languages".
According to them, "travelers go to Tripadvisor to find deals on accommodations, book experiences, reserve tables at delicious restaurants and discover great places nearby. "
How a channel manager works and helps boost your bookings
Increasing bookings and managing a business can be challenging. Updating relevant information, such as prices and availability on multiple platforms in real-time, can take too much time, and it's an operator prone to human error. You can work with a channel manager to avoid all the work and disturbing your business.
With a channel manager, such as TrekkSfot's, you experience many benefits, such as:
- Increase bookings. Sell over different OTAs such as Viator, Expedia, GetYourGuide, and many others simultaneously.
- Manage your bookings on one dashboard. Have your inventory updated in real-time and manage availability and pricing in one place.
- Track your sales and make data-driven decisions. Check which channels are selling more and adjust capacities across the channels you're working with.
If you want to know more about the ultimate booking solution that can help you manage your sales with OTAs and much more, get a demo!