European OTAs invest heavily in mobile sites and apps
- January 2020
- Phocuswright Research
OTAs continue to play a pivotal role in Europe's online travel distribution marketplace. In 2019, according to Phocuswright’s latest travel research report Europe Online Travel Overview 2019, travel suppliers' transactions via OTAs in all relevant country markets climbed 2% collectively to €49 billion, with similar advances expected for the next several years.
The growth in OTA bookings, however, is highly uneven in terms of the platforms that are generating the increase. As is the case with online supplier-direct channels, the growth in OTA bookings is coming from mobile websites and apps, on which OTAs (especially the global and pan-European leaders) are making heavy investments. In 2019, OTA mobile bookings for the European market climbed 11%, while OTA desktop bookings actually fell 1%, following a flat year in 2018. This trend will continue for the next few years; OTA mobile growth will be in the 9-10% range through 2023, while desktop bookings will likely be flat or down slightly.
But OTAs' initial advantage has all but disappeared. Most European travel segments have undergone consolidation, and either a single player or a handful of suppliers tend to dominate. These deep-pocketed leaders in the air, rail and car rental segments especially have the resources to invest in their own online platforms and marketing initiatives. This, along with suppliers' ability to offer exclusive benefits directly to their customers – free Wi-Fi, legroom, upgrades and other loyalty perks – has eaten into OTAs' share of the online market.
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