The Great Debate: List with OTAs or Your Own Site?

Here are the pros and cons of using an OTA versus your own site.

By
Janice Sousa
|
July 6, 2021
Janice Sousa
July 6, 2021

Mac or PC. Burger or pizza. Cat or dog. Coffee or tea. 


Everyone has an opinion about everything. Everyone ‘knows’ what’s best and thinks they know what’s best for you too. 


When it comes to your business, you know what’s best and we want you to feel confident in your decisions. So whether you’re choosing to list with an OTA or to market on your own site, we want you to have the information you need to make an educated decision. 


OTA

An OTA is an online travel agency. It is a web-based marketplace that allows consumers to book travel-related products and services directly with travel supplies, all in one place. These are third party agents reselling trips, flights, hotels, cars, cruises or vacation packages. 


A few of the most well-known OTAs are Viator, Expedia, Inc. and Airbnb.


Pros:

  • They can help you increase revenue (also known as a ‘frenemy’ - they give me 80% of my revenue so I need them but don’t want to need them). 
  • If you have the capacity to grow, they can help you grow your tours.
  • They have fast and efficient customer service. 
  • Their online booking experience is smooth and quick, and if not, customers will direct frustration towards the OTA, not your personal site or company. 

Cons: 

  • You pay a (sometimes) steep commission to the OTA.
  • There is no personal touch. Customers may show up on your tour ill-prepared despite your best efforts.
  • You are not able to have as much brand awareness pre-tour and really have to rely on the on-tour experience to deepen your relationship with customers.


Direct-to-consumer

This would most likely be done through your own website or social media. If you have a niche tour in a small community you might choose to market directly through your own personal tools.


Pros:

  • It is commission-free! 
  • You can do your own marketing - this is great especially if you are laser-focused on who your customer is and where they “live” online.
  • You can highlight a highly customized customer experience with your marketing.
  • You can build personal relationships with guests which turns trust into loyalty (aka repeat guests).
  • Allows you to work with travel agents and other industry professionals.


Cons: 

  • You may not be able to increase sales as quickly.
  • You have to do all sales and marketing yourself.


If you’re more of a visual reader or learner, check out this decision tree.

There may not always be one right answer, as you may choose different ways and styles of marketing for different points in the growth process. But, we know you’ll make the right decision for you. Your tour business is as unique as you are. 


Our TL;DR recommendation - try direct while simultaneously researching OTAs. Reach out to our team here to get a breakdown of what OTAs we recommend based on your tour type.



Sign Up Today

Mac or PC. Burger or pizza. Cat or dog. Coffee or tea. 


Everyone has an opinion about everything. Everyone ‘knows’ what’s best and thinks they know what’s best for you too. 


When it comes to your business, you know what’s best and we want you to feel confident in your decisions. So whether you’re choosing to list with an OTA or to market on your own site, we want you to have the information you need to make an educated decision. 


OTA

An OTA is an online travel agency. It is a web-based marketplace that allows consumers to book travel-related products and services directly with travel supplies, all in one place. These are third party agents reselling trips, flights, hotels, cars, cruises or vacation packages. 


A few of the most well-known OTAs are Viator, Expedia, Inc. and Airbnb.


Pros:

  • They can help you increase revenue (also known as a ‘frenemy’ - they give me 80% of my revenue so I need them but don’t want to need them). 
  • If you have the capacity to grow, they can help you grow your tours.
  • They have fast and efficient customer service. 
  • Their online booking experience is smooth and quick, and if not, customers will direct frustration towards the OTA, not your personal site or company. 

Cons: 

  • You pay a (sometimes) steep commission to the OTA.
  • There is no personal touch. Customers may show up on your tour ill-prepared despite your best efforts.
  • You are not able to have as much brand awareness pre-tour and really have to rely on the on-tour experience to deepen your relationship with customers.


Direct-to-consumer

This would most likely be done through your own website or social media. If you have a niche tour in a small community you might choose to market directly through your own personal tools.


Pros:

  • It is commission-free! 
  • You can do your own marketing - this is great especially if you are laser-focused on who your customer is and where they “live” online.
  • You can highlight a highly customized customer experience with your marketing.
  • You can build personal relationships with guests which turns trust into loyalty (aka repeat guests).
  • Allows you to work with travel agents and other industry professionals.


Cons: 

  • You may not be able to increase sales as quickly.
  • You have to do all sales and marketing yourself.


If you’re more of a visual reader or learner, check out this decision tree.

There may not always be one right answer, as you may choose different ways and styles of marketing for different points in the growth process. But, we know you’ll make the right decision for you. Your tour business is as unique as you are. 


Our TL;DR recommendation - try direct while simultaneously researching OTAs. Reach out to our team here to get a breakdown of what OTAs we recommend based on your tour type.