Today millions of travelers around the globe use Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) to plan their leisure and business travel. OTAs are getting popular among travelers even though there are still people who prefer travel agents expertise instead. Although, OTAs evolved their introduction in the 1990s, the corona pandemic provided new and exciting opportunities for them to attract more users and increase revenue. Due to the pandemic, people barely visit travel agents expertise and choose online service for information and booking. According to Statista, the global online travel market is expected to reach $833.52 billion in 2025 at a CAGR of 10%.
An online travel agency (OTAs) is a web-based marketplace that allows consumers to research and book travel products and services, including hotels, flights, cars, tours, cruises, activities and more, directly with travel suppliers (Expedia group). Expedia, Orbitz, Airbnb, bookings.com, tripadvisor, Travelcity, Hopper, and Priceline are some familiar OTAs.
So the question arises, what influence these travelers to purchase from OTAs?
Below we will discuss about five influencing factors with supporting reviewed scientific publications.
People are certain about getting good value and benefits with the purchase from OTAs. A result imply that quality of benefits, monetary, social status, preference, and information values predict purchase intention toward OTAs, with the chief driver being the quality-of-benefits value, followed by the preference value.1
Payment and refund policies are also important drivers for OTAs. Results from a study show that refund rate has great effect on the customer’s payment decision, while transaction cost has great influence on the hotel’s operational decision.2 When the refund rate is greater than a threshold, the customer prefers online payment.
Additionally, sentiments plays vital role to understand customer buying intention and brand attitudes.3 The qualitative aspects of OTAs can help service-providers understand customers’ brand-attitudes by focusing on the important aspects rather than reading the entire review, which will save both their time and effort.
Social currency have become an essential factor in motivating the customers to co-creation content related to products and services (Zinnbauer & Honer 2011). Social currency, attitude and subjective norms influence customer experience concerning online travel agencies.4
Further, the quality of content on OTAs portal aids as drivers influencing booking intention among travelers. The study explored localization, website quality, product information, perceived interactivity, price and promotion, e-security, customer value, service quality, electronic word of mouth (eWOM), marketing and brand promotion amongst the identified determinants to define the relative dependence and driver powers.5 Another study supported this by showing the positive impact on electronic loyalty from the quality of services, website quality, infrastructure and electronic purchase.6 Research which carried out a questionnaire survey on Chinese tourists visiting Korea with experience of using the online travel agency web also favor that in the e-service quality, convenience, interactivity, information validity, credibility had a positive impacts on perceived value and satisfaction.7
Increasing levels of competition are faced by OTAs thus, experience an ever greater need to evaluate the effectiveness of their Web sites. The study was conducted to examine the influence of perceived Web site quality on willingness to use online travel agencies. Ease of Use was found to be the most important dimension in determining Willingness to Use, followed by Information/Content, Responsiveness, Fulfillment, and Security/Privacy.8
The result of research conducted to analyze factors that influence e-Loyalty of customers indicates that customer e-Loyalty is predisposed by e-Service Quality through e-Perceived Value and e-Trust. Hence OTAs popularity depends on innovation, convenience it offers as well as how trustworthy it is.9
Sentiments and duration of trip:
Does length of stay, demographic and socio – economic characteristics impact on purchasing behavior of OTAs. It was founded that short-duration travelers were more intended to use online travel agencies, where Long-duration travelers preferred their traditional travel agencies.10
From my point of view, online travel agency is growing popularity not only in developed countries but also in developing countries travel industry. Online travel agencies have rather advantage of reaching out to the larger audience. Fast processing of information and transaction is crucial aspects of OTAs for its popularity. The quality of portal, details about the product and service are another important factors affecting OTAs success. Users also gets best price from OTAs, easy payment and refund policy which aids on its utilizations.
Looking into future if vulnerability in booking system (altering or cancelling service) is improved to ensure trustworthiness, OTAs future is very bright.
1ShaliniTalwar, AmandeepDhir, PuneetKaur, Matti Mäntymäki (2020) why do people purchase from online travel agencies (OTAs)? A consumption values perspective, International Journal of Hospitality Management 88:102534
2Guang-XinGao, Jian-WuBi (2021) Hotel booking through online travel agency: Optimal Stackelberg strategies under customer-centric payment service, Annals of Tourism Research 86(2):103074
3ArghyaRay, Pradip KumarBala, Nripendra P.Rana (2021) Exploring the drivers of customers’ brand attitudes of online travel agency services: A text-mining based approach, Journal of Business Research 128(2):391-404
4AnuragSingh, Nripendra P Rana, Satyanarayana Parayitam (2022) International Journal of Information Management Data Insights, Volume 2, Issue 2, 100114
5MahakSharma, RoseAntony, Rajat Sehrawat, Angel Contreras Cruz, Tugrul U. Daim (2022) Exploring post-adoption behaviors of e-service users: Evidence from the hospitality sector /online travel services Technology in Society, Volume 68, 101781
6S. H. Jafarpour, A. Mahmoudabadi and A. Andalib, “The impact of quality of service, website, shopping experience and infrastructure on online customers’ loyalty,” 2017 3th International Conference on Web Research (ICWR), 2017, pp. 163-168, doi: 10.1109/ICWR.2017.7959322.
7G. G. Ronsana, M. R. Shihab, B. H. Syahbuddin and W. R. Fitriani, “Factors Influencing Customer’s E-Loyalty in Tourism E-Marketplace,” 2018 International Conference on Information Technology Systems and Innovation (ICITSI), 2018, pp. 237-241, doi: 10.1109/ICITSI.2018.8696021.
8Young A. Park PhD, Ulrike Gretzel & Ercan Sirakaya-Turk (2007) Measuring Web Site Quality for Online Travel Agencies, Journal of Travel & Tourism Marketing, 23:1, 15-30, DOI: 10.1300/J073v23n01_02
9Niu LX, Lee JH. The Intention of Repurchase on e-Service Quality by Online Travel Agency Site. The Journal of Industrial Distribution & Business [Internet]. 2018 Jul 30; 9(7):61–70
10Sujay Vikram Singh, Rajeev Ranjan, “ONLINE TRAVEL PORTAL AND THEIR EFFECT ON TRAVEL AGENCY: A STUDY ON OUTBOUND VISITORS OF VARANASI.”, IJRAR – International Journal of Research and Analytical Reviews (IJRAR), E-ISSN 2348-1269, P- ISSN 2349-5138, Volume.6