The internet has revolutionised the way people research and book their travel itineraries, making it easier for customers to access travel information, be it flights, hotels or car rentals, from varied sources. Online booking has given active travellers the ability to make quick last-minute bookings, often based on special offers, tailoring their own packages from a suite of options[1]

The U.S. and Europe represent nearly 3/4thof all online travel sales[2]. In the coming years, popularity and use of online travel bookings is expected to accelerate in the emerging markets of Asia Pacific, Africa and Latin America. Travel sales of OTAs (Online Travel Agencies) like Expedia, Orbitz have grown rapidly from $41 bn[3] in 2003 to more than $119.2 bn in 2012[4] in US.

However, OTAs now face a new challenge driven by a shift in the way people book their travel. Some consumers increasingly prefer to book directly at a supplier’s (hotels and airlines) website, using OTAs primarily for research. Increasing prevalence of metasearch engines like Kayak have enabled this trend.

Does this mean the end of OTAs? What are they doing to counter this trend? Read more…

By Navin Nayanar/ Poornima Janardhan

[1] Source: Travel and Tourism, World Travel and Tourism Council, 2011

[2] Source: Empowering Inspiration: The Future of Travel Search, PhoCusWright, February 2012

[3] Source: US Online Travel Sales to Reach $146 Billion, eMarketer, 2007

[4] Source: Mobile Use Spurs Digital Travel Sales, eMarketer, 2012

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