What is an OTA:• With general public access to the Internet, many airlines and other travel companies began to sell directly to passengers. As a consequence, airlines no longer needed to pay the commissions to travel agents on each ticket sold. Since 1997, travel agencies have gradually been disintermediated, by the reduction in costs caused by removing layers from the package holiday distribution network. However, travel agents remain dominant in some areas such as cruise vacations where they represent 77% of bookings and 73% of packaged travel. In 2009, the market size for travel agencies experienced a sharp decline, dropping from $17 billion the previous year to $14.5 billion.
• In response, travel agencies have developed an internet presence of their own by creatingtravel websites, with detailed information and online booking capabilities. Several major online travel agencies include: Expedia, Voyages- sncf.com, Travelocity, Orbitz, CheapTickets, Priceline, CheapOair, and Hotwire.com. Travel agencies also use the services of the major computer reservations systems companies, also known as Global Distribution Systems (GDS), including: SABRE, Amadeus CRS, Galileo CRS and Worldspan, which is a subsidiary of Travelport, allowing them to book and sell airline tickets, hotels, car rentals and other travel related services. Some online travel websites allow visitors to compare hotel and flight rates with multiple companies for free. They often allow visitors to sort the travel packages by amenities, price, and proximity to a city or landmark
List of the main OTA• ebookers.comStarted out as the flight-orientated online service of thefares consolidator, Flightbookers, but is now a true travelportal where you can search for everything from countrycottages to cruises, train tickets to transfers.• eDreamsSpanish travel portal selling flights, car hire, hotels and self-catering accommodation. It was originally launched inMarch 99 (and based in the USA) when they specialised inunusual hard-to-find holidays with practical help from 400
• DreamGuides –online travel experts who would answer specific queries about where to go and what to do by email.• ExpediaThe first major eAgency, launched by Microsoft in the US in the early 90s, then in the UK & Europe a couple ofyears later (Nov 98). It is amazingly comprehensive & versatile, and is the largest seller of travel online in theworld.• IgluIglu started life as a specialist ski web site selling ski accommodation, but has now diversified into severalniche site: igluSki.com, igluVillas.com, igluTropical.com & igluCities.com, all accessible from the mainiglu.com site. There used to be an igluActive.com too, selling activity breaks, but that seems to havedisappeared.• JustTheTicketDiscount airfares, Car Hire, Hotels, Eurotunnel, Eurostar, Fly-Drive, city breaks and late holiday deals. Searchonline, then book on the phone.• Key2HolidaysOnline operator specialising in luxury holidays to Dubai, Italy, America, Africa and the Far East, and tailormade trips all over the world.• LastMinute.comFamous home of late-availability holidays. If you are looking for excellent bargains and really can dropeverything and go at a moments notice, this is the place to look. Over the years Lastminute has gobbled upthe major competition so it operates all the Online Travel Corporation (OTC) brands, Travelocity (originallySabre on the www), and Holiday Autos.• Netflights.comPopular flights and hotel aggregator. It was originally launched as the Airline Network PLC in the earlynineties, but the name was changed in 2008 when its parent company was aquired by the Thomas Cook
• Group. Netflights offer deals on flights, hotels, holidays and car hire to thousands of global destinations. Holidays purchasedthrought it are ABTA protected.• Opodo: This is the online travel company created by nine European airlines - Aer Lingus, Air France, Alitalia, AustrianAirlines, British Airways, Finnair, Iberia, KLM and Lufthansa. The site offers not just cheap airfares but also hotelscar hire and package holidays from operators such as Kuoni;If you are wondering about the name; theyneeded something that worked in up to nine different languages and for nine different cultures. It is also avisual palindrome. Turn it upside down and it looks the same. (I was at the launch in 2002 when theyexplained it! A.)• PackYourBags.comOnline agency since 2001, ABTA & ATOL bonded, selling budget holidays in Europe, Africa, the Caribbean,the Americas, India & the Indian Ocean from the major tour operators including Thomas Cook, First Choice,Airtours, Sunset and Cosmos.• Priceline.co.ukHotels, flights car rental, the usual stuff...but, Pricelines business model is based on its Name Your Own Pricesystem which allows you nominate the price you would like to pay for a hotel, flight or car rental and it thensearches its database of partner companies looking for unsold seats, rooms or cars that they are willing to sellat that price. While that system still applies to almost 30,000 hotel rooms, we cant see much evidence of itbeing applied to flights and cars, which seem to be sourced the traditional way. They also have a reviewsystem called PillowTalk – a ‘word cloud’ that displays words of different sizes according to how many timesthey have been mentioned by customer reviews. These words are taken from over 300,000 reviews submittedby genuine guests who have booked and stayed at a hotel through Priceline.
• Telme Global TravellerA well-constructed site, simple to use, offering flights, hotels & carhire, biased towards mid to longhaul flights and the businesstraveller market.• ThisIsTravelTravel portal launched at the start of 2002 by the Mail, Mail onSunday, Evening Standard, and Metro group of newspapers.Most of the content (such as Frank Barretts advice column)seems to be culled from their existing travel pages online. Aflights/insurance/hotels/car-hire booking engine turns the site intoa portal.• Trainbreaks.comCity breaks via Eurostar. Part of Delpech Travel, so a sister brandto seafranceholidays.com, ferrydiscounts.com and
• Trainbreaks.comCity breaks via Eurostar. Part of Delpech Travel, so asister brand to seafranceholidays.com,ferrydiscounts.com and shortbreakmarket.co.uk.• TravelPlannersA division of USAirtours group, selling flights,accommodation, car hire, airport parking, shortbreaks and holidays.
OTA and Hotels• All travel sites that sell hotels online work together with GDS, suppliers and hotels directly to search for room inventory. Once the travel site sells a hotel, the site will try to get a confirmation for this hotel. Once confirmed or not, the customer is contacted with the result. This means that booking a hotel on a travel website will not necessarily result in an instant answer. Only some hotels on a travel website can be confirmed instantly (which is normally marked as such on each site). As different travel websites work with different suppliers together, each site has different hotels that it can confirm instantly. Some examples of such online travel websites that sell hotel rooms are Expedia, Orbitz and WorldHotel-Link.• The comparison sites, such as Kayak.com, TripAdvisor and SideStep search the resellers site all at once to save time searching. None of these sites actually sell hotel rooms.• Often tour operators have hotel contracts, allotments and free sell agreements which allow for the immediate confirmation of hotel rooms for vacation bookings.• Mainline service providers are those that actually produce the direct service, like various hotels chains or airlines that have a website for online bookings. Portals will serve a consolidator of various airlines and hotels on the internet. They work on a commission from these hotels and airlines. Often, they provide cheaper rates than the mainline service providers as these sites get bulk deals from the service providers. A meta search engine on the other hand, simply culls data from the internet on real time rates for various search queries and diverts traffic to the mainline service providers for an online booking. These websites usually do not have their own booking engine.