Thursday July 18, 2019
Facebook Twitter Linkedin Linkedin Linkedin Linkedin
logo

5 ways to compete with OTAs

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

5 ways to compete with OTAs

I’ll bet you’ve seen him on TV. That grey-haired guy jumping around extolling the virtues of booking your hotel (and more) online because the selection, convenience and value simply can’t be beat. Just one more reason for potential clients to say to you “Why would I need a travel agent when I can book online?”

Yes, I’ve seen him too and I can see why consumers think that way. So. How do we compete with the reality of that massive advertising spend and broad reach? Here’s how you can deal with that skeptical potential client – and address the issue on your website:

  1. Explain that you book more than hotel rooms or air tickets. Long gone are the days of the 1990s when consumers were loathe to type their credit card number into a website. The more basic the product, the easier it is to buy and sell online. But …
  2. Play the ‘human’ card. When it comes to something more complicated than booking a hotel for a couple of nights, the trip planning process can make clients anxious and confused. You are there to take that all away and replace it with seamless, painless travel arrangements which are also good value for money. You are a live human being, not a bot, and you are there to care for your customer before, during and after travel.
  3. Referrals, referrals, referrals. There is nothing like a recommendation from a real live human to build your reputation. If a client comes back from a hugely successful trip and has told you about it, make it easier to get that referral by asking if you can write it up for them and get their say-so to post it. And if there was a wrinkle that you were able to sort out, so much the better.
  4. Don’t forget to leverage your relationship with suppliers AND your more flexible payment options (people love that). Explain that your buying power is part of your host agency’s buying power and don’t be shy about mentioning awards, sales volumes (you can be a little vague here if you wish), FAMs, conferences and even personal exchanges you have had recently with a BDM. OTAs often require full payment upfront, whereas we travel advisors can be more flexible about the payment deadlines.
  5. Stay as connected as the OTAs are. Yes, you do need a system for monitoring your inbound emails and communications out of normal business hours. And when potential clients are in buying decision mode, always encourage a call or email from clients on your website. A great way to start and build a relationship.

The OTAs won’t go away. But there is also always room for the deft hand of a professional travel agent to bring value to the customer.


Lynda Sinclair, CTM, is the Senior Vice-President – Leisure at Vision Travel Solutions, which has an ever-expanding and vibrant program for independent agents. With over 30 years in the Canadian retail travel industry, Lynda says she “lives and breathes what goes on at the front line.” She can be reached at lynda.sinclair@visiontravel.ca.

Lynda Sinclair

Lynda Sinclair

CTM, Vice-President/Leisure at Vision Travel Solutions
With over 30 years in the Canadian retail travel industry, she says she “Lives and breathes what goes on at the front line.” She can be reached at lynda.sinclair@visiontravel.ca.
Lynda Sinclair

Latest posts by Lynda Sinclair (see all)

First look at luxe new US$85-million adults-only resort coming to Punta Cana
Heres-a-look-at-the-luxe-new-adults-only-resort-coming-to-Punta-Cana
Spain’s Pure Salt Luxury Hotels is expanding to the Caribbean, with its first resort in the region set to open in the...
Sunwing adds direct Waterloo-Cancun flight, brings back Montreal-Havana
Sunwing-adds-direct-Waterloo-Cancun-flight-brings-back-Montreal-Havana_v2
Starting this winter Sunwing will offer twice weekly direct flights from Montreal to Havana and brand new weekly direct...
Sandals and Beaches Resorts expand wedding offerings
Committed to innovating the destination wedding experience, Sandals and Beaches Resorts are offering additional...
Cancun, Punta Cana flights from YQB with Air Canada Rouge this winter
Air Canada has announced new winter flights from Quebec City to Cancun and Punta Cana.
View all News






Get travel news right to your inbox!