With the increased usage of smartphones, digital channels such as Airbnb, Booking.com, Expedia, et al started gaining dominance. A travel agent may prove beneficial for difficult bookings, but the travel trend has been changing now. With an increasing dependence on smartphones, travelers now prefer to have everything on their fingertips.
Therefore, if you have a travel business or are planning to start an online travel agency in Europe, it is essential for you to go for an online travel agency offering a portal and app to customers that can be accessed through mobile phones. OTA has given travelers the freedom and control to seamlessly plan their holidays through the personalizations provided by the travel search engines.
According to a report by Booking.com,
“Over half (55%) of global travelers report being more determined to make sustainable travel choices than they were a year ago, but barriers include a lack of knowledge and available or appealing options when trying to put this into practice.”
There has been some kind of legal rulings that leads to curtailment of the OTAs advantage in some of the markets. Along with this comes the fact, that the suppliers themselves are trying to drive the online bookings, which has led to stronger growth of the supplier-direct channel. But, some of the OTAs are positioned to work better with the supplier-direct channel. Now, that you have understood the importance of starting an Online Travel Agency (OTA) in Europe, we intend to highlight some factors to start with an OTA business in Europe:
What are the steps to start online travel agency In Europe?
It is important to understand what are the steps to start an OTA business in Europe. These are:
1. Find Your Niche
The first and foremost step for starting an Online Travel Agency is finalizing the niche you want to work in. As a startup, you need to consider the cut-throat competition in the travel industry, therefore, you should focus on a specific niche that is still untapped. Having a unique value proposition would give instant recognition to your business and increase brand visibility.
2. A membership in IATA
IATA accreditation is not compulsory however is beneficial for starting any travel agency. You can get the help of travel software and APIs while setting up an OTA business. Some of the third-party APIs do not require any IATA to start with the business.
3. Learn more about your travel portal/website
Next, in order to start with an OTA, you need to have a website and app of your travel agency. The normal practice for this is to develop a travel portal software by employing developers in the house or taking help from a professional travel portal development company. You need to consider the following factors:
It is also important to choose which modules does your website/travel portal require, depending on the niche you choose. The most basic ones are on flights, hotels, car rentals, vacations, cruises and many more. However, as a startup, you need to research and analyze the travel market to identify your niche and stay ahead of the curve.
In order to bring the content or the services mentioned in the above list, the best way to go about is to take the help of a CMS or you need to simply integrate the XML/APIs to get the services from third-party suppliers. You must choose the right travel API that will fetch a high ROI for your online travel agency in Europe.
XML/APIs empower the travel agency business, as they provide access to a large inventory of hotel rooms, flight tickets, car rentals, tours, etc. The OTA gets real-time information and prices by integrating with their booking engines, so as to sell the relevant travel products to the travelers.
Now, it is time to choose the business model. You can make a choice out of B2B/ B2C/ B2B2B/ B2B2C/ White Label Solution. You can just start with the basic model and your system will be flexible enough to add further models, at a later date.
The services offered by the XML/API service providers are hidden. But, you must not get directed to an external site to make your payments. For this, your website must be integrated with payment gateways, so that your customers will be able to make payments through the booking engine directly from the online travel agency software
4. Digital Marketing:
You must employ the best practices in digital marketing, for establishing an online presence of your OTA. Promoting your brand on social media platforms is an effective way of marketing your product and building customer loyalty.
Finally, it is the era of mobile phones. Having a travel portal and an app for your online travel agency in Europe will provide a better experience, and the travel apps that cater to most of the requirements of the travellers benefit in the long run. The clients prefer to get real-time information, while on the go.
A successful OTA will be able to fetch a higher ROI by offering cost-efficient mobile solutions. I hope you like reading an article on How to start OTA in europe.