What is an Online Travel Agent?

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Photo of What is an Online Travel Agent? by Enuke

The advancement of technology along with a rapid proliferation of smartphone devices have left an effect on every aspect of our daily routine tasks -whether at business or at home. There is a absolute necessity of carrying out such routine tasks, while on the go - from anywhere and anytime.

This is the reason as to why the traditional travel agencies have seen a massive transformation into online travel agencies (OTAs), as more and more travellers would like to strike a complete travel arrangement with the online Travel Agency Software, booking sites, instead of accessing a locally cheap travel agent.

The OTAs connect with the consumers by using the internet and provide information on transportation and lodging. Another important aspect dealt by them is the bookings. In fact, the OTAs usually specialize in offering the entire gamut of client’s travel products for the end-users - through their online travel booking sites- whether that be flights, hotels, car rentals, holiday package deals as well as cruise package deals.

The OTAs are well accepted by the consumers on account of certain benefits. Let us now delve into the benefits:

Benefits of Online Travel Agencies

The OTAs earn a considerable benefit for the hotels/airlines they work for in generation of revenue. Following are some of the benefits offered by them:

1. Accessing New Markets

2. Drive Occupancy

3. Data-driven Focus

4. Technological Innovation

5. Direct Bookings

6. Dynamic Packages

Accessing New Markets

Considering the scale of operation, the OTAs help the industries that they serve, reaching out to newer markets.

Drive Occupancy

The OTAs are termed as a convenient distribution channel - the place to sell the extra inventory of the hotels as well as the airlines. The OTAs need to have a strategic balance with all other channels of distribution.

Data-driven Focus

The OTAs have a data-driven focus. Their knowledge base on the local markets are to ensure higher conversion rates for their consumers and subsequently that’s what drive their business.

It is through this approach that the OTAs drive higher business growth for their clients.

Technological Innovation

OTAs are technology companies based on innovations and not just merely travel companies. The OTAs shine more due to the fact that they leverage technology for the small and medium players - solving their distribution problem. Moreover, there are many in the hotel industry which render services based on mobile technologies.

Direct Bookings

The OTAs are helpful in generating revenue through direct bookings of websites. There are many instances when the travellers visit the OTAs first, after researching for various options and then go for a direct booking through the actual hotel website.

Next, our question is “What are the essential features on an online travel booking site? “

Some Essential Features of Online Travel Booking Sites

The online travel booking sites have some basic features such as:

1. Responsive Web Design

2. Flights, Hotel, Car Rental APIs

3. GDS

4. Integrated Payment Gateways

5. B2B and B2C business models

Responsive Web Design

Responsive web design is a new approach for website design. It ensures a good user experience, whatever be the devices used. The online travel booking sites must follow a responsive web design, as Google’s search engine algorithm has incorporated mobile-friendly sites.

Flights, Hotel, Car Rental APIs

In order to build an innovative website, it must be connected with the travel APIs. These travel APIs are for booking the flights, hotels and the car rental services as well as comparing prices to find the best possible deals.

GDS

Global Distribution System (GDS) is a primary reservation tool in the hands of the online travel agencies. With the help of this GDS, it is possible for the OTAs to access inventories of flights, car rentals, hotels and other services - that too in real-time. This offers the best possible accommodation as well as the competitive rates for their clients, all in the matter of a few minutes.

Integrated Payment Gateways

The client can choose from a wide range of payment gateway solutions and make payments through credit or debit cards.

B2B and B2C Business Models

The OTA operates mainly in two types of models. The B2B and the B2C. When there is an exchange of information, services and products between two businesses it is B2B, the same when exchanged between business and customers is called B2C.

Conclusion

Finally, the online travel agencies have a stiff competition in the marketplace. Before you become a travel agent online, you need to first of all decide on the type of niche area of travel that you will serve, and choose the most preferred destinations.

It is also recommended for the prospective OTA to acquire the right kind of training and certifications. To become a travel agent online, you can also make use of the existing infrastructure of a host agency, instead of creating a stressful situation for yourself, right at the start.

It is through the OTAs that the travelers experience becomes less hassle some, for booking a service.

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