Independent OTAs vs Aggregate Search Engines

Being an online travel agent can be a great way to start your home based business. Job function in this industry can vary but we are going to concentrate on referring customers to travel booking sites where you receive a portion of the commission.

Basically what that means is that we act as travel agents by presenting offers (through links and banners) to our visitors. In your website, blog or post you are going to offer them relevant links to the OTAs (Online Travel Agencies) where they can book their trip. There are many players in the online travel industry that we can benefit from. We are not limited or restricted to promote only one of them. We can promote all of them at the same time if we want to by grabbing the deals we are interested in. Today we can find two major players, Priceline and Expedia, but there are plenty more out there such as Agoda (mostly focuses on the Asian market), Booking, Trivago, Travelocity Hotwire, Egencia and plenty more.



However, they are not all the same. There are three types of OTAs:

  • Aggregate Search Engines: They gather results from multiple search engines. What they do is once you go to their website to search for hotel or flight that you want, they will search on multiple OTAs (online travel agencies) on many channels trying to bring you the best offers. Trivago, Kayak, and Venere are good examples for Aggregate Search Engines.


  • Independent OTA's: Those are the OTAs that the Aggregate Search Engines are searching in. Expedia is a good example for that.


  • Pseudo OTA's: They tend to do both, to present you with their unique offers and to redirect you to other independent OTAs. TripAdvisor is a major player here.


It is very important, especially for you as a beginner to have an OTA presence on your website. Without OTA presence, who is going to book online with you? No one knows you and so it will be very difficult not to say mission impossible to get visitors that will make reservations with you. With the OTA presence, you will get a bigger customer base with global exposure and interest.



Online Travel agencies, or OTA's, drive the majority of bookings around the globe. OTAs are a primary source of revenue for most airlines and hotels. For the first time in history, the customers are able to easily compare rates and different options. Customers trust the major OTAs and they know that some of them, such as Expedia, will guarantee low pricing with the best deals. They offer value to customers at all stages of the buying process.

Because most customers will visit the hotel website before purchasing a night at the OTAs it is important to link your customers to both, to the hotel website (acting as an affiliate) and to the OTA where they can find a nice deal. Make sure to open an affiliate account at both websites (don't forget that it is free) so no matter what will be the way your customer chooses to purchase the vacation, you will still get your commission.

Use the OTA umbrella !!! and don't use only one OTA. There are plenty of OTAs that they are not as big as Expedia and but hey do tend to do well. It is good to be on as many channels as you can, as long as you can manage them


If you are going to deal with a very unique and specific niche it will be wise to search for smaller OTAs that your niche is more in their specialization. You will be surprised over and over again as to how many great and attractive deals you can find there. Another good advantage you can find in using smaller sized OTAs is the commission rate they are willing to pay.

Find the right balance between using the main OTAs (Expedia, Booking etc) and using the medium-sized OTAs. Smaller OTAs will pay you more for your traffic while bigger OTAs tends to convert better.


We would love to hear from you.