If you enjoy travel, meticulous planning, and assisting others in having wonderful experiences, consider becoming a travel agent and starting your own online travel agency business. As far as business ventures go, becoming a travel agent can be relatively inexpensive, and you can often get away with a small staff and little initial investment. You can also make a free travel agent business opportunity. Here is the explanation.

Read also: 8 Online Business Ideas from Home, Money Is on the Way!

What Is an Online Travel Agency? How OTAs Work

An OTA (Online Travel Agency) is a website (or app) that specializes in selling travel services to customers. Online travel agency business models provide hotel rooms, flights, rental cars, vacation homes, tours, or all of the above at the same time. What is travel agency? They are essentially distributors for hotels, airlines, and tour companies who profit from each sale by charging a fee.

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How does online travel agency work? OTAs act as go-betweens for customers and service providers. Travelers can go directly to the hotel or airline’s website, but 44 percent go to OTAs to compare prices and see the entire pool of options. 

OTAs build their extensive inventories by connecting to various online travel agency partnerships via APIs – pieces of code that allow different online travel agency systems to communicate with one another. Who are those collaborators?

  1. Hotels. Hotels and OTAs can connect in a variety of ways, including via Extranet, Channel Manager software, or API integration with hotels’ Central Reservation Systems.
  2. Wholesalers or bed banks These industry participants purchase hotel rooms in bulk and resell them to OTAs, travel agencies, and even airlines.
  3. Global Distribution Systems (GDSs). These computer networks dominate onlinetravel distribution, storing inventories, schedules, and fares for all types of services ranging from hotels to ferries. You can access GDS terminals manually or through an API connection.
  4. Airlines using the NDC connection. This relatively new method of distribution allows airlines to sell their inventory without using GDSs. 

Metasearch engines are another partner that helps OTAs promote their offerings. Websites such as Google Flights and Skyscanner aggregate various flight options. This is the primary source of traffic for many OTAs.

The main task for any OTA and how they essentially make a profit is to find the best mix of providers and distributors to keep prices low and markups high. An OTA should function like a well-oiled machine to support that task.

How to Grow an OTA and Maintain a Competitive Edge

There are numerous OTAs in the world, with the two largest players accounting for roughly 70% of the market: Expedia Group and Booking Holdings. Expedia Group owns Expedia, Orbitz, Travelocity, Trivago, and other brands. Booking Holdings is the parent company of Booking.com, Priceline, Agoda, and Rentalcars. This handy infographic depicts the market distribution in detail. 

Despite the market’s near oligopoly, travel distribution remains a profitable business to start and run. Today, mid- and small-sized businesses have all the resources they need to thrive if they understand what OTA success entails. How to start an online travel agency working from home? It’s one or a combination of the following:

  1. Specific markets/demographics/regions The less targeted an OTA can be, the more mainstream it is. Expedia and Booking.com cannot cater to every single region of the world, traveler budget, or traveler preference. That is why, with proper research, smaller businesses can find a niche to serve better than the giants. 
  2. Unique user experience. Traveler behavior is constantly changing, which means that they have new needs and tastes that must be met. Today, many travel startups offer intriguing solutions to common problems – some provide subscription travel services, while others allow customers to monitor prices or create a full itinerary with minimal input. 
  3. Low prices. For 60% of travelers, price remains the most important factor in selecting an itinerary, implying that customers prefer a better deal over a brand name. As a result, your OTA’s main competitive advantage should be exclusive pricing. Exclusive means previously negotiated with the supplier, not simply pulled from a GDS search result. You can make more online travel business opportunities. 

Here are some key points to developing an OTA marketing and pricing strategy:

Expand Your Collaborations

Customers will leave you for OTAs where the price is simply lower, even if you have the most advanced engine of travel booking agent and a team of skilled agents to close the deals. Because every agency receives the same list of rooms, flights, and prices when connecting to bed banks and GDSs, you must begin by negotiating the best rates with your main suppliers. 

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For example, if your niche is family vacations in Greece, you should look into the most popular airlines that fly there and find a wholesaler with the largest inventory of all-inclusive hotels in the Balkans. You get the picture.

Win the Metasearch Site Competition

Metasearch sites bring in a lot of traffic. Of course, this only works if your OTA stays on top of the price results. You can accomplish best online travel business opportunities through three methods: using acquisition analytics, using metasearch analytics, and understanding your engines.

Use Content Marketing and Advertising

Expedia and other online travel agents spend up to 50% of their revenue on marketing. When starting an online travel agency, you want to appear in Facebook feeds, email customers about your most recent searches, and create viral ads. Trivago’s tagline and aggressive sales strategy spawned a few memes.

Improve your SEO and landing pages by focusing on keywords that your audience searches for. Provide useful content that will drive traffic and elevate your ranking on search engines. Use Google ads as well, which are extremely effective if you use specific keywords.

Read also: What You Need to Know About On Page SEO in the Philippines


An OTA (Online Travel Agency) is a website (or app) that specializes in selling travel services to customers. To develop an OTA marketing and pricing strategy, you can expand your collaborations, win the metasearch site competition, and use content marketing and advertising.

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