Hotel Only Travel Agents – In the first part of the article (see here) we mentioned two of the most successful online travel sites in the UK. In this section, we look at three other channels that have made the top five and are shaping the travel industry in the UK.
Primarily a flight comparison site, Skyscanner is a recent foray into the hotel industry, but has already made significant strides. The site was one of the top travel search sites in Europe with 35 million unique visitors, and now with separate mobile apps for flights, hotels and car rentals, the travel major is in a unique position to offer the complete package to potential travelers. According to Deloitte, Skyscanner, the hotel and flight comparison site, grew more than 42% last year, a transformational milestone in which non-flight bookings accounted for 47% of its revenue.
Hotel Only Travel Agents
TravelRepublic is one of the largest and most well-established online travel agents in Europe, with over 2 million holidaymakers booking through its websites in the UK, Ireland, Spain, Italy and Germany each year. OTA Major has access to around 300,000 hotels, apartments and villas and receives over 1,000,000 visitors per week, making it one of the UK’s most sought-after online travel channels.
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Some of you already know about NuStay. It’s a travel startup launched in July 2015 with investors from London, Copenhagen, Oslo and Dubai, which aims to provide better booking rates for travelers while offering hotels the ability to send unique offers to each individual guest, manually or. Automatically, with a discount. A report by PhoCusWright shows that 70% of travelers prefer suitable rooms at a discounted price, and they wait for the right moment to book this accommodation. Accommodation providers consider luxury travel to be their main source of revenue – approximately 77% of accommodation providers sell luxury travel, making luxury travel one of the top revenue generating segments in online travel. This trend is NuStay’s USP – the company provides luxury rooms at budget prices with its unique algorithm that finds the best matching luxury hotels for their customers. The interesting thing about this company is that they negotiate discounted rates for their guests with their hotel partners, which no other company has done yet.
You may have a team of revenue managers constantly updating your inventory on the major online travel channels you’re connected to, but if you’re not monitoring those channels, a large number of your rooms will remain empty for the day. Great income. As the lion’s share of all hotel bookings move from desktop to mobile, these new types of channels are becoming the primary distribution medium for your hotel. Make sure your revenue managers are making the right decisions and promotional tactics that are compatible to meet the growing demand of your potential guests.
An estimated 12 million travelers will visit Dubai this year, making it the fifth most popular city in the world for international visits. Despite political volatility in the Middle East, the outlook for the hospitality industry in the UAE remains strong. The growing importance of Dubai International Airport, which has become the world’s busiest airport in terms of international passenger traffic, has contributed greatly to the growth of the hotel industry in Dubai.
One of the youngest regions in the world, with more than 50% of the population between the ages of 18 and 34, travel to the UAE is heavily influenced by the digital experience. Always connected and eager to explore, millennials have become a trend in the online travel segment in the country. With information readily available, they are forcing hospitality brands in the region to reshape their marketing strategies according to their preferences.
Online Travel Agents
A high-cost market, OTA sales in the Middle East reached US$3 billion in 2014, representing approximately 17% of total sales. With 94% of the population owning a mobile device, mobile and tablet booking devices are clearly shifting in the booking pattern. Traditionally a last-minute market, the rise of mobile connectivity has also significantly reduced the booking window. Compared to the average word of 23 days, the average time to book a hotel in the United Arab Emirates is now just 13, one of the lowest. Online travel bookings, which represent 25% of all bookings in the Middle East, are predicted to grow in 2015 and 2016 to reach 36% by the end of 2017, when online revenue is expected to reach $35 billion.
In this article, we list five online travel agents who are playing an important role in shaping the online travel industry in the region.
With over 1,000 properties listed, Booking.com is the most popular travel agency in the UAE. OTA major Priceline has expanded its listings in the region by about 25 percent over the past year, including 200 new properties. Dubai ranks sixth in terms of global inbound travel bookings for Booking.com and the channel controls more than 50% of the region’s OTA market. With 166 million unique visitors per month, its website Booking.com still leads online travel by a wide margin over rivals Expedia and TripAdvisor. The premier online travel company not only ranks number one in terms of unique page visits, but also in terms of total room nights booked. Every day, more than 850,000 room nights are booked on onBooking.com through its website and mobile applications, attracting travelers from both the leisure and business sectors around the world. Although travelers in this region search for their favorite destination, preferred hotel online, but when it comes to booking, they prefer to make their purchase through traditional travel agents.
Over the past few years, OTAs in the Middle East have grown rapidly with an average growth rate of 18% with Expedia.com – the first OTA and one of the major players in the region. In 2012, online travel sales in the Middle East were estimated at 2.3 billion or 13% of total travel sales. In order to reach a growing customer base with high disposable incomes who are familiar with advanced technology and excited about the modern lifestyle, online travel agents like Expedia are coming up with new offers that suit their customer portfolio. With 59.3 million unique visitors each month, Expedia.com is the third largest online travel agent after Booking.com and TripAdvisor. The company has around 800 properties listed on its website and is the second most sought after online travel agent in the Middle East.
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In the next part of my article, I will discuss three more of the most successful online travel sales channels that are shaping the travel industry in the Middle East.
Just when we think the rate parity issue is settled, comes the news of Booking.com amending their parity agreement in Europe. In a statement last week, the OTA giant said it is waiving its price, availability and booking parity provisions with other online travel agencies. Simply put, this means that as a hotelier, you can now sell the same room at another OTA for a lower price. As the CEO of Booking.com says: “We welcome and encourage fair competition in the marketplace, because competition drives innovation, efficiency and, most importantly, greater value for consumers.”
For independent hotels and small OTAs, this development could be the “best thing” to happen to them in a long time. And they are thanking regulators in Sweden, France and Italy for forcing Europe’s biggest online channel to comply with their rule. Booking.com’s alleged “anti-competitive provisions” are under investigation in Germany, Austria and the UK. Does this mean the days of roses are over for the hotel industry?
Small OTAs have long claimed illegal arm-twisting by large OTAs to maintain rate parity. Based on claims by pan-European hotel booking site Skoosh, the UK’s Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has investigated allegations that hotels are colluding with Booking.com to keep room prices artificially high. In 2013, after a three-year investigation by the OFT, it found that InterContinental Hotels Group, Expedia and Priceline Group could no longer implement rate parity agreements for certain types of bookings.
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Since then, hoteliers in the UK have been able to offer discounts to “closed groups” such as members of their loyalty program. And third-party distributors will be allowed to lower their commissions and margins to offer hotel room discounts to certain “closed groups,” such as website members or travelers who download their mobile app.
Booking.com’s latest move is somewhat similar to those following the OFT ruling in the UK, but on a wider scale. Effective July 1, the change will give accommodation providers the freedom to offer properties with different pricing and booking policies (eg free cancellation, WIFI, breakfast) through different online travel agencies. For independent and smaller hotels that can’t stay away from the mighty channel but are burdened with high commissions (in some cases as high as 20%), price parity has always been a point of contention.
South America’s leading online booking channels CVC, MalaPronta.com and several others have been integrated for a seamless connection with the growing customer base in the region.
“Our integration will help us