Public OTAs and life beyond hotels and flights

Published October 2018 Analyst: Phocuswright Research


Public OTAs and life beyond hotels and flights

Hotels and air have historically been the biggest pieces of OTA business, but 2018 kicked off with a flurry of activity around the less-talked-about segments like activities, packaging, rail and car. Public online travel companies made alignments and acquisitions, and rolled out technology and product enhancements, all in the name of offering a fuller plate of travel services. Meanwhile, currencies rebounded in some parts of the world but remained volatile in others. Collective gross bookings from 10 publicly reported companies rose 22% year over year (YoY), to US$161.7 billion in the first half of 2018 (1H18).

Phocuswright Chart: Worldwide Public OTA Gross Bookings
(Click image to view a larger version.)

Travel activities on the rise

Even though accommodations are the OTA cash cows, public online travel agencies continued quests to become more comprehensive global travel platforms, both in terms of product and market coverage.

Travel activities, a rising-star in the travel space has been marked as a sector ripe with opportunity. Expedia has been present in the space for years and in 2018 added event tickets to its Expedia Local Expert offerings and rolled out an inventory management tool to its activity suppliers. Booking finally made some more obvious moves into the segment with its April acquisition of FareHarbor (an activities reservation technology company) and the launch of its local experiences product in September. However, the experiences product is currently only available as a cross-sell opportunity to guests with an accommodation reservation, not as a standalone discovery product.

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