TRAVELLERS who booked via an online travel agency (OTA) spent more per trip than non-OTA guests across all categories, regardless of whether they were travelling for business or leisure, making them a valuable segment of customers for hotels, according to a joint survey by online travel company Expedia Group in collaboration with Oxford Economics.
The study covered a per trip basis including transportation, retail, dining, and entertainment, and guests were segmented by those who booked part or all their journey using an OTA and non-OTA booking guests.
According to the survey shows that the aim of an OTA is to make travel bookings as frictionless for guests as possible. The research from Expedia Group and Oxford Economics revealed that guests who booked using OTAs are more profitable to hoteliers than non-OTA customers. The OTA guest brings greater or equal value to hoteliers and destination marketing than any other travel segment.
Over one-fifth (21 per cent) of surveyed travellers used an OTA in trip planning and booking, and according to the data, OTA bookers stay eight per cent longer and spent nearly 18 per cent more per trip than non-OTA bookers. Coined “OTA Premium” by Oxford Economics, this variance between OTA guest and non-OTA guest spending is evident across all categories, including food and beverage, retail, recreation, entertainment, and transportation.
The largest difference in spending is in the retail category, where the OTA premium is nearly 26 per cent, followed by transportation, recreation and entertainment, both upwards of 20 per cent.
“OTAs are a valuable contributor to the travel ecosystem, often bringing a larger traveler spend to every facet of a trip, regardless of trip purpose,” said Abhijit Pal, Head of Initiative and Ops for Expedia Group. “With more than one-fifth of travelers using an OTA to book all or part of their trip, the data shows the scale and importance of this traveler segment to hotel brands and owners, transportation companies, restaurants and other businesses in the destination.”
The OTA premium is partly attributable to the typically longer length of stay for OTA bookers and does not have any correlation to travel party size. The Oxford research reveals that OTA bookers generally are slightly younger than non-OTA bookers, with a higher concentration in the 25 to 54 age group , by nearly 10 percentage points, and no notable variant from household income.
Although the focus of this study was specifically based on American travellers who reported staying at a hotel in the US, the insights are still beneficial for hoteliers in Thailand as the US is the number one feeder market for Thailand based on Expedia Group data in the past 12 months ending Q1 2018.
“It's encouraging to see that OTAs are the primary source for travel planning and booking among the US travellers. As the world's leading online travel company, we're here to support our hotel partners to tailor their offerings and help them acquire more valuable American travelers to stay in their properties,” Pimpawee Nopakitgumjorn, Director of Market Management at Expedia Group concluded.