How to sell your rooms with Online Travel Agencies (OTAs)
Marketing your property via Online travel agencies, or OTAs can be a challenge. There are many options to choose from with different commissions and target markets. In this guide, we will help you utilise OTAs to increase your bookings then compare them to learn which OTAs you should use for your business.
Why Guests Use Online Travel Agencies (OTAs)
OTAs were originally designed to sell excess inventory in times of slow demand. Today OTAs drive the majority of hotel bookings around the world and are a primary source of revenue for most hotels. OTAs such as Expedia, Agoda and Booking.com have become major marketing channels for hotels. Consumers are able to easily compare different hotels side-by-side in terms of price, amenities and location. OTAs also offer trusted reviews and accurate local information.
Major Online Travel Agencies (OTAs)
Two major groups control the OTA market. Expedia Group (owns Expedia.com, Hotels.com, Travelocity, Orbitz, Hotwire, Trivago & Venere) Booking Holdings (owns Agoda.com, Booking.com, Kayak.com, and Priceline.com) now control about 70% of the online travel market.
The Value of Online Travel Agencies (OTAs)
Hotels use OTAs as distribution channels to extend their reach to new markets. OTAs also offer value to consumers at all stages of the buying process – from planning and research, to selection and booking as well as sharing reviews and experiences. OTAs also create the ‘billboard effect’ – When guests discover hotels on OTAs, most of them do further research about the hotels, leading the guest to the hotel website for direct bookings. A study conducted at Cornell estimates a 10% to 25% increase in direct bookings from listing on an OTA.
How to Choose OTAs that Fit Your Business.
Check out my analysis of the most popular OTAs in the world below.
|Popular OTAs||Users or Guest||Accommodations||Countries||Travel Market||Commission|
|Agoda.com||22 million||1.2 million||182 countries||Worldwide||17%-25%|
|Airbnb.com||200 million||3 million||192 countries||Worldwide||3% +|
|Booking.com||40 million||1.4 million||212 countries||Worldwide||10% – 15%|
|cTrip.com||90 million||1 million||200 countries||China||10% – 25%|
|Expedia.com||25 million||1.8 million||210 countries||Worldwide||15% – 25%|
|Flipkey.com||3 million||830000+||190 countries||North America & Europe||3% +|
|Hotelbeds.com||15 million||1.2 million||180 countries||Worldwide||10% – 25%|
|Hotels.com||16 million||435,000+||60+ countries||Worldwide||10%|
|Orbitz.com||11 million||N/A||N/A||Worldwide||10% +|
|Travelocity.com||14 million||510,000+||152 countries||Worldwide||10% – 15%|
|Asiatravel.com||4 million||550,000+||40+ countries||Asia||10% – 30%|
|Traveloka.com||1 million||250,000+||30+ countries||South East Asia||10% – 20%|
|GTA Travel||24 million||950000+||190+ countries||Worldwide||10% – 20%|
|Rakuten Travel||1.5 million||750000+||52 countries||Japan and Asia||10% – 20%|
Disclaimer: I compiled the following from publicly available information that can change at any time. Please use this guide as a reference only. Contact OTAs directly to verify information before making any business decisions.
My Conclusion and Recommendation
Online travel agencies offer hotels of all types a lot of opportunity to increase their bookings and revenue. Think of your rooms as a perishable item. If you’re not able to sell your rooms today, you’re never going to recover the loss in occupancy tomorrow. It’s better to sell your rooms through OTAs no matter what commission level. An occupied room is far better than an unoccupied one that burdens you with overhead expense. Signing up with at least 10 or more OTAs is the key to increasing your bookings and revenue. Managing multiple OTAs can be difficult when you have to constantly update rates and availability across different OTA extranet. Use a channel manager to simplify managing your rates and availability on all your OTA sites.