In my last article, I wrote about the different kinds of travel agencies. We’re all aware of the rise of Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) and their ability to facilitate the distribution of travel items. In this article, I’ll take through the key components that help OTAs succeed in selling hotel reservations through their sites.
In the past two decades, OTAs have performed an excellent job of filling in the gap that is so needed between customers and suppliers. They have also been able to capture the majority of demand from travellers for their own. It’s a good thing I’ve observed this change and been an integral part of it.
When you book hotels online, I have observed three distinct consumer preferences that formed the basis for the growth of the OTAs. First, the customer’s demand is to have various choices available. The second factor is price-consciousness. This is a universal trait that transcends geography. Is looking to price shop and compare prices to get the best price possible. Thirdly, they want an outstanding UX (UX) that can successfully integrate the two previous (choices and price) preferences.
Therefore, the business of OTAs is based on the primary human response, and I’m not seeing it changing shortly. To meet the different preferences mentioned previously, OTAs need to use specific technology to run their businesses. What drives this sector, and what technologies do that OTAs require to be successful? I’ll briefly overview the most popular eight technologies and share my views and experience.
1. Hotel Aggregation Platforms
OTAs have agreements with specific wholesalers, hotels and Global Distribution Systems (GDSs), which permit them to offer various travel-related products at a specific price. Thus, OTAs require an approach to managing their data using a single platform that searches the entire catalog and provides only the requested data. Hotel aggregator platforms can do this for the OTAs. They generally offer their services via APIs.
2. Back-Office Systems
The software that runs the back office in OTA functions as the central point of an enterprise. It is responsible for various crucial tasks, such as managing inventory, managing suppliers, setting business rules, and the fundamental rationale for business decisions, analytics, metrics, and reporting on numeric data of employees, the company and customers.
3. Hotel Mapping And Room Mapping
OTAs obtain hotel information from multiple partners, suppliers and aggregators, which means a high likelihood of receiving inaccurate, inaccurate or duplicate information from these sources. They use tools for mapping hotels to keep out duplicate entries or hotel listings with conflicting information. Thus, the tools for mapping help OTAs organize their hotel information across all of their suppliers.
As with hotel rooms, if OTAs obtain room information through various channels, the risk of having inaccurate room information is also high. There might be rooms without amenities, policies, photos and rooms that are duplicates. Room mapping tools aid organizations organize room data so that it is easily accessible to clients.
4. Rich Hotel Content
I have previously talked about variables such as photos and amenities. The mapping tools assist OTAs in organizing these elements. But, they must find an effective solution to supply these elements. This is where sophisticated hotel content solutions help. They provide all hotel content, including reviews, photos, social proof, and tourist attractions that ultimately influence purchases.
5. Revenue Management Systems
Revenue management systems aid the OTAs in making pricing decisions. Prices in the travel industry are always influenced by external factors like the mood of the market, the speed of economic activities, festivals, sporting events, and a myriad of other intangible variables. Therefore, pricing must be optimized by better forecasting and planning for demand. Revenue management systems can perform this for Online Travel Agencies.
6. POS Reconciliation
OTAs require a point-of-sale (POS) reconciliation program to manage complex accounting and keep the balances and checks of their businesses. POS reconciliation is an essential accounting procedure that compares two sets of records to one another to ensure no leakage or discrepancy in the business processes. With the help of a POS reconciling system, the OTA can detect any discrepancies quickly and correct them.
7. Post-Booking Confirmation
A post-booking confirmation software can be crucial in validating reservations of different products for travel that you offer through your platform. Validation is essential in various situations, such as when customers book one of your travel products, or a payment is not being accepted on your platform, and when multiple reservations have identical names. In lodging without validation, two customers could be booked into rooms in the same hotel. To prevent such negative customer experiences, you should consider an after-booking confirmation tool.
8. Smart Websites
They became popular because they made it easier for end-users to access travel-related products. Responsive websites recognize their users’ devices and improve their site’s configurations to provide the most efficient UX to make bookings easier. Travel agency websites with sophisticated payment gateways that offer options like “lock price” and “book now pay later” perform better than websites that offer only standard payment options.
In the past two decades, OTAs have made quite a way. They ensure that customers enjoy the best possible experience when using products that travel with the least effort. OTAs also offer a steady income stream for companies that sell travel products.