Originally created to sell excess inventory during slow seasons, OTAs have become the top driver of hotel bookings around the world.
They are now a primary source of revenue for most hotels and allow consumers to easily compare travel options and have gone from offering simple hotel booking sites to providing everything from language support to personalized experience suggestions.
To further discuss the latest innovations in this space, and how OTAs are continuing to grasp the attention of travellers, we hear from online booking expert Mahesh Chaddah, co-founder of online travel agent Reservations.com
• When did Reservations.com launch?
“We founded the OTA in 2014 specifically for hotel reservations, with a mission to help create memorable experiences. We have over 150,000 hotel partners worldwide and now administer around 1.2 million bookings per year.”
• How is the OTA differentiated?
“The site has seen rapid growth and we want to make booking a hotel room as enjoyable as possible. We are dedicated to helping travellers make the best decisions possible for their upcoming hotel selections and our OTA has a concierge service, administered via our customer success centre to allow bookings by telephone also.”
• What’s new in the OTA sector, and its outlook for the future?
“The sector is dynamic and evolving. As it grows, we’re trying to close the traveller’s loop offering seamless integration between mobile, laptop and media box, all integrated to one experience. There’s a pendulum shift occurring – prior to OTAs the booking experience used to be more personal. With the majority now booking online, this is our quest – next will be a heightened technology experience with human input. The user will experience artificial intelligence working on all platforms, whilst reviewing data points for an increasingly refined and personal booking experience.”
• How are OTAs expanding to provide a full-circle booking experience?
“Like us, most OTAs are using Google as a demand source, we don’t view them as competition – Google is a partner to expose our offering. We are extending our partnerships with car rentals, and event ticket providers to offer customers the opportunity to make reservations for various other experiences across the globe, whilst providing a more holistic travel and accommodation booking experience.”