How To Work With OTAs

In this article, we’ll explain some of the advantages of working with OTAs. We’ll also highlight the key players and how to manage all of your OTA partnerships easily.

Reading Time: 5 minutes 3 seconds

Travelers often prefer OTAs due to the convenience of dealing with just one platform while comparing different offers. This trend creates an increasing influence on OTAs in the experiences industry. And, understandably, many suppliers are not happy about it, not least because of high commission fees. But there are a number of situations when you can strategically work with OTAs, for the benefit of your business, your OTA partners, and customers. In this article, we’ll explain some of the advantages of working with OTAs. We’ll also highlight the key players and how to manage all of your OTA partnerships easily. Let’s dive in. 

Benefits of partnering with OTAs

  • Getting early customers. When your direct channels like your website are not well developed, OTAs can give you the much-needed access to potential customers. 
  • Filling out last-minute capacity. If you have a fixed capacity for a given tour and it seems like you’re not going to fill that, OTAs can help you make up the difference in the last 1-2 days. This is most valid when extra customers do not increase your costs, e.g., when running a bus tour with a fixed number of seats.
  • Getting feedback. OTAs have well-developed review systems so you can get more insight into your customer needs, strengths, and weaknesses. 
  • Testing your tour offers. OTAs typically get a lot of traffic and so you can test different variations of your offers and see which ones perform better. You can then use that insight to improve your direct sales messaging. 
  • Get your offers translated into multiple languages. OTAs like Klook and Musement help translate your offers for free, so you can re-use this across other channels. 
  • Boost overall brand awareness. Customers who shop through OTAs can recommend your experience offline to their friends and family, who can then book through your direct channels. 
  • Get help with customer service. Typically OTAs handle first-level customer support and only escalate certain issues with your team. This means you are likely to have less customer service overhead from OTA channels.
  • Ad dollars. It’s hard to compete with these big companies on major channels like Google Ads and Facebook Ads. But they will promote certain offers via advertising, so you get to piggyback on their budget. 

Who are the key players?

Before selecting your ideal OTA partners, let’s look at the top players in the industry. The following list includes our top picks of online travel agencies with the most traffic and the different benefits that come with each.

Viator (US market)

Viator was started in 1995, purchased by TripAdvisor in 2014, and later rebranded as TripAdvisor Experiences. This is the home of tours and activities for TripAdvisor. Suppliers can greatly benefit from partnering with Viator due to the exposure on the world’s largest travel review site, and it’s exposure to the US travel market. 

GetYourGuide (European market)

This marketplace provides a great user experience for customers and offers free offer optimization for suppliers. If your target market is Europe, GetYourGuide is a great partner to reach your preferred potential customers. 

Musement (Italy)

In comparison to other OTAs, Musement is a smaller marketplace but still quite effective. Its main market is Italy, so you would do well to list with Musement if you target travelers or locals there. 

MyDays (Germany)

Founded in 2003, MyDays has a unique approach to selling experiences as gifts. 

MyDays market offers through their app, in physical shops, and in the agency’s shops set up in over 40 locations across the DACH region. 

Klook (Asia)

Founded in 2014, Klook has built a strong team focused on the East Asian market, especially Taiwan. This OTA has an app for partners so you can easily keep track of all your activities and bookings on-the-go. 

Tiqets (France)

Tiqets was founded in 2014 and has come a long way since. With a focus on their mobile app for bookings, this OTA is a convenient partner if you want to attract customers from France.

How to choose the ideal OTAs for your business

There are several factors to consider to determine which OTA is the right fit for your tour or activity business. Since you want to benefit from the partnership, it’s therefore worth taking the time to carry out the following steps: 

1. Assess the market reach

One of the most important things to look into your potential OTA partner is their target market. 

  • Where is the OTA’s target audience? Does it match your own target audience’s location?
  • Where are the tours and activities listed in the OTA located? Are the majority in the same location as your tour/ activity?

These questions will help you assess the OTA’s market reach and determine whether you’re a good fit.

The more relevant travelers you can reach, the higher your exposure, and the more the opportunities to boost your bookings.

2. Calculate the financial implications

It’s important that partnering with OTAs makes financial sense for your business. To be sure of this, look at the costs you will incur by working with the online travel agency.

  • Commission rates. Are you able and willing to pay the commission required by your chosen OTA? 
  • Price amendments. Can your business afford to provide a “best price guarantee” or “seasonal offers”?

If the potential returns from a specific OTA outway the expenses, then that’s a good fit for your business.

3. Understand the terms and conditions

The T&C set up by OTAs should be workable for your tour or activity business. Here are some of the key things you need to know before getting into a partnership.

  • Cancellation and refund policies. Does the policy allow you enough time to cater to the logistics of your tour or activity? 
  • Customer support. Understand how customer support will be handled and whether the OTA takes care of this. If not, are you able to meet the cost of customer support and still pay the OTA commission?

These are just a few of the terms and conditions you need to look into, ensure you check all the details, and comply with all OTA requirements.

Manage your OTA partners

So now you’ve made your choice of the OTA to work with, that’s great. But what if you settle for more than one marketplace (which is a pretty common occurrence)? You’ll need to juggle between multiple channels, handling your own website, and attending to your actual tours and activities. 

This is where tools like the Regiondo Channel Manager come into play. If you decide to partner with multiple OTAs, your booking system can help you keep track of all your online channels in one place. 

Conclusion

I hope by now, you can see the great benefits of working with OTAs. From building your brand awareness to getting early customers and gathering useful customer feedback, the advantages of partnering with an OTA can easily outway the big put-offs like high commissions.

Take your time to learn about the key players and their different offerings before choosing your ideal distributor channel. One of the crucial aspects to look into is the location of the OTAs target market. This should tally with your tour’s target audience so that the audience you reach through the OTA are actually potential customers for your business.

Other important steps to take before selecting an OTA is calculating your financial implications and understanding terms and conditions to ensure you can comfortably comply.

Lastly, make sure you have an easy way to manage your sales channels in one place so you can adequately track performance and make better business decisions using this data. 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Tags: Regiondo

Trending

already a member?

Lost your password?

NEED TO REGISTER?

Become an Arival Insider
THE ARIVAL INSIDER PRO ACCESS MEMBERSHIP; YOU GET ALL THIS TO HELP YOU ADVANCE YOUR BUSINESS.

Included in Free Membership

Included in Arival Pro Membership

The Arival on-demand video library archive
Access to the entire library of over 150 video sessions and webinars

Arival.guides
Short, digestible research & trends reports delivering insights into our industry, such as The Tour Operator Outlook for 2021.

Arival.travel articles
Topical articles about marketing, tech, operator business and operator stories in all areas of tours, activities & attractions & experiences

Job board access
Find a job from our regular listings, post a resume to the talent network and learn strategies from the job resources articles

New webinars
Helpful, instructional sessions covering subjects such as Mastering Facebook Ads, Grow Your Business and How To Work With OTAs — topics to help advance your business.

Discounts on all Arival in-person events
20% Discount on all Arival in-person events (save up to $300)* based on business type

Arival ProShield – Insurance program
Access to tailored insurance solutions by Granite Insurance is available exclusively for Arival Insider Pro Access Members. Insider Pro Access Members also have access to a suite of resources from Granite Insurance including templates, forms and other informative documents.

Insiders Pro Access member exclusive webinars
Paid membership-only webinars to deepen your understanding of important industry topics.

Job postings & talent directory
Post jobs & connect with candidates most applicable to your business.

Private roundtables to connect, learn and engage
Small, focused and intimate discussions exclusive to Arival Insider Pro Access members.

Full access to Arival’s library of in-depth reports
Up to date, deep analysis of tourism topics ranging from Self-guided Tours to Sales & Distribution Trends and Outlooks, based on the data that defines the industry.

The latest on-demand videos
Over 350+ on-demand videos featuring hot topics in tours, activities & attractions

Insider discounts in digital marketing, tech, e-learning, and more
Save money on additional tools, services and learnings you need to run your business. Exclusive to paid members.

Membership Overview
ARIVAL CODE OF CONDUCT​
CONFERENCES AND COMMUNITY SPACES​

At Arival, we believe travel can make the world a better place. Our mission is to establish and inspire a diverse community of individuals and companies in the In-destination Industry by providing opportunities to gain insight, share knowledge and build connections. To make it possible for true collaboration, creativity, innovation, and idea exchange to thrive, we are committed to facilitating a welcoming and respectful community for all. This Conference Code of Conduct shares our community expectations and applies to all attendees, employees, exhibitors, speakers, sponsors, volunteers, and other participants at Arival- produced and sponsored events. We empower all participants in our community to actively engage in creating a friendly, inclusive and safe environment for all.

Arival’s core values include the following, and create an expectation for conduct at our events and in online community spaces:

We demonstrate a deep respect for human beings inside and outside our company and for the communities in which they live.
We value integrity and strive to consistently interact with others in ways that are authentic, ethical, and fair.
We are dedicated to transparency, committing to clear, open and honest communication.
We actively pursue and advocate for inclusion, diversity and representation of varying cultural backgrounds, perspectives and ideas

Arival welcomes people from all cultural backgrounds, and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, creed, gender (including pregnancy, perceived pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, or related medical conditions), gender identity, religion (including religious dress and grooming), marital status, domestic partner status, genetic information, age, national origin or ancestry, military or veteran status, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability, or any other basis protected by federal, state, or local laws.

Accordingly, participants must refrain from displaying any demeaning, harassing, aggressive, or intimidating behavior or materials that would interfere with others’ experience and participation in our community.

If you witness or are subjected to inappropriate or disruptive behavior or have any other concerns, notify an Arival staff member as soon as possible.

Inappropriate or disruptive behavior will not be tolerated. Arival reserves the right to refuse entry to or remove any party from any event or community space at any time when participation or behavior create a disruption or hinder the event or enjoyment of the event by other participants. All determinations are at the sole discretion of Arival, and the decision of the Arival team will be final. Severe breaches of this Conference Code of Conduct may result in disqualification from participating in future events. Individuals expelled due to violating this Conference Code of Conduct will not be eligible for a refund or other consolation.

If you have questions regarding this Conference Code of Conduct or its implementation, please contact us at [email protected].