The travel industry is now full into the digital age which has diminished the role of the old school travel agent and brought in a host of alternatives, including the news shared accommodations with the likes of Airbnb.
But more is to come and with the growth of mobile travel and bookings the new channels are also changing. Travelers do increasingly use online travel sites to search for hotels, flights, but according to Phocuswright the online travel agencies, (OTAs) accounted for only 16% of travel gross bookings in the U.S. in 2014. The rest in made up by travelers who may look at OTAs but book at supplier websites, travel management companies, by phone or walk-ins at suppliers, such as hotels and airlines and now Googles own Bookings via HotelFinder.
Majel Reyes shows the Havana apartment she renovated to rent via shared-space sites like Airbnb and HomeAway. The segment is a fast-rising competitor… View Enlarged Image
Travelers, says Phocuswright, may research hotels and activities on OTA sites, but don’t necessarily book trips there.”There are many ways to book travel,” said Douglas Quinby, VP of research at Phocuswright. ” and OTAs, while huge are only a part of the picture.
This is, of course, a hot topic right now with much controversy about the rise of direct bookings and the new millennial like traveler who favour a do-it yourself direct approach to booking travel, and the supposed death of the billboard effect. Both contrary positions to each other on the importance of OTAs.
This Phocuswright study shows that OTAs, while important, are not the entire industry. Nevertheless the power of the Big OTAs cannot be dismissed. While OTAs Account for Only 16% of USA Travel Market, the battle for top place is fierce. Expedia (including Orbitz) had $8.59 billion in revenue in 2014. Priceline generated $8.44 billion. Together they account for 74% of the OTA travel share in the US. That cant be ignored as hotels and tourism marketers have learned, even as they try to increase their share of direct bookings.