What You Should Know About OTAs (Online Travel Agencies)
The following is an article “What You Should Know About OTAs (Online Travel Agencies)”
by Marc Pulisci.
We all know the future of tourism will heavily rely on the digital world, it already does. The number of Online Travel Agencies (OTA) keeps growing, and so do the ways they can influence the market through apps videos and digital innovation. An OTA may have its advantages, but there are still a few reasons to book your trip with a real agent.
OTAs are tracking you.
OTA sites are riddled with cookies and scripts measuring and tracking everything we do. Depending on your browsing habits they will show you the products and services that would best fit their goals, not yours. In 2012, Orbitz posed a question. Do Mac users spend more on travel than PC users? They tracked their customers and found Mac users on average pay $20 to $30 more per night on hotels and go for more stars, according to the Wall Street Journal. Talking to an agent on the phone can help you avoid this search bias.
Overbookings are usually an OTA problem.
OTA's handle vast numbers of random unassociated customers that brands consider bargain shoppers not loyal to the brand or likely to be a repeat. This only means that when an overbooking happen OTA customers are usually the ones to pay for it. If you do use an OTA make sure your booking was processed by directly calling the hotel or airline. Using an agent can get help to avoid this risk, in fact, many agents will even give you upgrades at no cost if something goes wrong with your reservation.
A Physical Travel Agency can probably get you a better price.
OTAs work with strict pricing algorithms that are meant to make the agency more money. The American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) says the average fee for booking airline tickets is around $36 and many agents waive that fee for a commission. Agents make choices an algorithm could never make.
Real deal advice.
OTAs can write up blog articles to help you find what you are looking for, but it will never be as updated as an agent. An agent is usually well informed about the current events regarding a destination they promote. An OTA will not notify you about a remodeling happening in the hotel or a swimming pool being out of service. Directly speaking with a knowledgeable individual can go a long way to making your trip a better experience.
The future is digital, there is no escaping it, but for the time being apps and OTAs still have some work to do before they can beat a devoted travel agent.
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