How Big Are the Big OTAs?

Most online travel agencies in tours and attractions are privately held or operate as divisions within other companies and do not disclose specifics. Still, it’s interesting to look at what information is out there.

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This recent Skift article on TUI Musement, the tours and activities division of the TUI Group, one of the world’s largest travel sellers, brought an interesting number to the fore. The article highlighted that the division generated nearly $1.5 billion in gross bookings in 2019, putting it in an elite group of large global distribution players.

It made us think about who else might be in that group, in addition to TUI Musement. So we compiled a shortlist of some of the most prominent players we know:

  • TripAdvisor reported $456M in 2019 gross experiences and dining revenue. If that revenue represents total commission receipts and we assume an average commission of 25%, that would put gross bookings at under $1.8 billion. Of course, we don’t know how big dining is in that number, and even a small change in the commission assumption could significantly swing that number. 
  • Klook claimed that they would surpass the USD1 billion gross bookings mark in 2018, and that they would reach 60 million trip bookings in 2019. However, many of those tickets appear to have been low-priced items, such as wifi cards for a few dollars each.
  • GetYourGuide has not disclosed financial information but presumably is at a scale comparable to Klook, given how much capital the company has raised. Financial filings available here in German indicate revenues of approximately $60 million in 2017. Assuming a similar average commission as TripAdvisor, that would put gross bookings at approximately $250 million. However, these filings may not be a complete picture, and we have heard from many operators in Europe that GetYourGuide has grown rapidly since, and in some cases become their largest-producing OTA partner.
  • Groupon may surprise many by being included here, but the public company reported gross bookings for its Things to Do category at $1.19 billion for 2018. 
  • Expedia had revealed gross bookings of more than $500 million for its activities division in 2017, including its offline Expedia Local Expert business.
  • SmartBox, the large European experience gifting site, reported revenue of more than $500 million in 2017. It may not be a conventional online travel agency, but experiences play a large part in its offerings.
  • Veltra, the leading tours and activities OTA in Japan, is publicly listed. We estimated 2019 gross bookings of approximately $400 million based on calculations from their 2019 investor presentation.  

There are many other sizable distribution businesses in our sector about whom there is no public information. JTB and H.I.S., two leading travel brands in Japan, and, the top OTA in China, all have extensive tour and attraction divisions. So too does HotelBeds with its Beyond the Beds division.  We have written about Airbnb Experiences’ growth, and many other brands, including Tiqets, Civitatis, Traveloka, and Headout, were rising rapidly pre-Covid.

One closing point: do a quick tally of the broad numbers above. 

Even if we’re off by a lot, which we could be, the sum of those numbers is small compared to the total size of the 2019 market – $254 billion

Notice any large players missing here? What do you think of our assumptions? Share your thoughts with us at [email protected]

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