Search Kayak.com or HotelsCombined.com and the world of online travel agencies (OTA) seems boundless with website names you never heard of. In reality, while there are many OTA sites offering discount hotel rates, the OTAs remaining independent in the online commerce world are getting swooped up for their revenue potential just like independent hotels are clamoring for the marketing power of the hotel big chain world.
Hotel News Now published an article this past week, ‘Cutting through the OTA underbrush’, describing the consolidation of the Online Travel Agency world.
Expedia and Travelocity joined forces last August and now control over half of the $40 billion U.S. travel bookings on OTAs. When you go to Travelocity to check hotel rates, the search results are powered by Expedia software.
Priceline is the other major player in the OTA field. What began as a lucrative source of consumer discounts with opaque bookings is now a major distribution source in the regular OTA world across the globe. Opaque bookings mean the hotel name is not disclosed to the consumer until the booking is paid. This gives the consumer the opportunity for deep hotel rate discounts. For the OTA site like Priceline, the hotel booking is a high revenue generator with up to 60% take on the hotel booking revenue.
Expedia and major OTA sites with their marketing power may take 15% to 30% of the hotel booking revenue. Hotel bookings are the primary money making activity of these OTA sites. Airfare bookings have a very small profit margin for OTAs compared to hotel bookings.
Expedia OTA affiliates
- Travelocity (marketing agreement)
- TripAdvisor (Expedia company until 2011)
HotelsCombined.com metasearch for a hotel in San Francisco shows first three search results for The Mosser hotel at $216 from Venere.com, Expedia.com and Hotels.com. All three of these OTA sites are Expedia companies.
Priceline OTA sites
- Agoda (Asia)
- Booking.com (Priceline.com/Booking controlled 49% Europe bookings 2012 compared to 23% Expedia/Hotels.com)
- Kayak (meta-search)
eDreams Odigeo (Europe)
- eDreams (17% of Europe bookings 2012)
In Europe the 2012 market share of travel bookings through OTAs is dominated by Priceline/Booking.com with 49%. Expedia sites had 23% market share, eDreams Odigeo had 17%, Orbitz Europe 7% and Travelocity Europe/LastMinute.com 4%.
Since this 2012 data report, there was the Expedia-Travelocity partnership of August 2013 with Expedia powering the search results for Travelocity hotel search.
The Online Travel Agency world is growing with big name conglomerates controlling many of the little OTA brands just like independent hotels are partnering up with big chains through brands like Marriott Autograph Collection, Choice Ascend Collection, Hilton Curio Collection and Carlson-Rezidor Quorvus Collection.
Or will one of these small players evolve into the next big OTA superbrand?
Ric Garrido of Monterey, California is writer and owner of Loyalty Traveler.
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