Standing out as an Online Travel Agent
Our Insights

Standing out as an Online Travel Agent

Differentiation when technology and price are not enough

Key Highlights: 

  • By 2020, the travel industry is estimated to have the highest penetration of online sales compared to other industries (44%)
  • Online sales penetration, developments around rate parity, direct push by travel suppliers, rise of metasearch engines and sharing economy players are all creating a challenging environment for OTAs
  • OTAs are still in the growth phase, accounting for $246 Billion of travel sales, less than one-fifth of the global travel market in 2015

Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) entered the travel industry a few decades back and have seen tremendous growth over that time. In 2015, they earned $246 billion in global travel sales (↑19% YoY). However, their technological abilities are now being matched by hotels and airlines, and their competitive prices are becoming less of a differentiator due to a reduction in price parity laws, the emergence of sharing economy players like Airbnb, and the increase in price transparency due to metasearch engines. To remain competitive in the coming years, OTAs must look to other differentiators.

In order to determine these differentiators, WNS DecisionPoint conducted a survey of travel platform users in North America, Western Europe and Asia Pacific to understand how customers use OTAs and what determines their buying behavior. The results uncovered the differentiators OTAs can leverage to form a successful strategy in the future:

- Bundled packages. As airlines and hotels push direct bookings, OTAs’ ability to offer hotels and flights in customized bundles with other offerings, such as car rentals and tour packages, allows them to provide more convenient options.

- Mobile apps. OTAs’ apps, on average score much higher in app quality than hotels and airlines. As more people turn to mobile as their primary method of accessing the internet, OTAs can capture more of the market with safe, easy-to-use and robust apps.

- Loyalty programs. OTAs have some distinct advantages when it comes to the potential of their loyalty programs. By leveraging their wide variety of offerings, they can appeal to the leisure market with more options and a quicker redemption cycle.

Standing Out as an Online Travel Agent

To discover the complete roadmap for OTAs to stand out in the coming years


Making the most of key elements such as bundled packages, mobile apps and loyalty programs will enable OTAs to carve out a differentiated space in the travel distribution market inundated with alternate options.