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travel portal vs travel agents

Online Travel Portal vs Travel Agents- Which Is Better?

Planning a vacation with the best services and cheapest prices can be a stressful task. You are never too sure if the package your travel agent is offering is the best one. Moreover, there may be some hidden charges or details that you may not even think about and find out later when you face inconvenience. This confusion makes you choose between travel portal vs travel agents.

For instance, you have booked a trip to a certain destination and the package includes return flights. You are under the impression that you have a direct flight taking 5 hours to the destination. However, later you find out that the flight is a connecting flight with a layover in between. Therefore, taking 8 hours instead of 5 to reach the destination can get really annoying. But, there’s nothing that one can do in that situation.

Booking your travel through a travel agent may be less stressful in the beginning. You completely depend on them to take care of everything for your travel. However, having full control of your travel itinerary and knowing all the details of your trip is relieving. This is because you have made the booking yourself through an online travel portal. Both sides have their pros and cons. However, an online travel portal has an edge over travel agents. It provides much-needed convenience, ease, and confidence in your travel booking.

What to choose between Online Travel Portal vs Travel Agents?

Online travel portals or online travel agents (OTAs) are websites such as Expedia, Booking.com, Tripadvisor, et al that compares prices of flights, hotels, packages, and other travel-related activities. They have a large inventory of flight tickets, hotel rooms, rental cars, etc due to the GDS integration services.

Travel agencies are adopting the trend of online travel portals. Travel portals help them sustain through the cut-throat competition in the travel industry. This brings us to think about why do travelers prefer online travel portals over travel agents. Here’s why online travel portals are beneficial to plan your travel without any stress.


Advancements in technology have made everything available on our fingertips. We no longer have the time to visit every place and rather prefer to order everything online. Online travel portals offer a great deal of convenience to travelers. Travelers can book their travel at any time of the day, be it a break between work or at night. They can save yourself from the lengthy phone calls with travel agents or visits to book their trip.

Transparent Pricing

Online travel agencies provide transparent prices without hidden costs. Some fares tend to change at the time of payment due to various algorithms, which can be annoying. However, the most affordable prices can be availed through online travel portals. 

Moreover, when booking through travel agents, there is an extra charge for their services which is not the case online. Due to high competition, hotels and flights are always competing to offer the best prices and discounts to customers on travel portals.

Cost & Time Efficient

One of the prime reasons why travelers prefer a travel portal over travel agents is time-efficiency. Online travel portals are also cost-efficient. You can save on the cost of traveling to the location of travel agents, save costs in communicating through smartphones, and also save the agent fees for availing their services.

Large inventory

Online travel portals integrate GDS/API/XML to gain access to a large inventory of hotel rooms, rental cars, flight tickets, tour & packages, etc. Travelers get numerous options to choose from which might be impossible to get from travel agents. 

There are certain things that a travel agent cannot do. For a human the information can be very limited unlike the information on the internet. In fact, even travel agents access inventory through GDS to provide you with the options to choose from. Therefore, it saves time to find the same information on your mobile app rather than getting filtred information from travel agents.

Easy Rescheduling & Cancellations

Making changes or cancellations to your bookings can be done through a few taps on your smartphone. There may be a small charge by the airlines or hotels for rescheduling or cancellations. However, if the travel is booked by a travel agent there is a high fee charged by travel agents to make changes in the bookings.

Therefore, if you have sudden changes in the plan, a travel portal application can come in handy. Contacting your travel agent might add to costs if you are at an international location.

Exciting Deals

Discounts and offers always excite travelers. Earning loyalty points or availing hot deals and offers is possible through travel apps when you make most of your booking using the same app. Travel portals are always trying their best to not lose their customers to competitors. Therefore, they retain customers by offering them exciting deals or great discounts on their bookings. 

The deals may include airport transfers, complimentary meals or drinks, or even holiday activities. On the other hand, travel agents rarely provide such deals even if you always make your travel bookings through them.  


Customers have an option to leave reviews and ratings on travel portals and apps for the services they availed. They can also share pictures and videos of their experience. Customer reviews help other travelers to make decisions about their plans and it also enhances the credibility of the online travel agency, 

In the case of travel agents, it not possible to read their reviews unless you hear it from another person. Therefore, it becomes difficult to completely entrust your travel plans in the hands of travel agents. That said, some travel agents have their business websites on google so it may be possible to trust the efficiency of the travel agent.

24*7 support

Imagine you are at an international destination and you have an emergency but are unable to contact your travel agent due to the hefty international call charges. A travel application would come in handy at a time like this, where all you need is an internet connection or wifi to receive instant help through the in-app messaging feature from the 24*7 customer support agents. 

Travelers are stress-free on their trips due to this feature on their travel apps which a travel agent is unable to provide.

Track Prices

Another convenient feature provided by online travel portals lets you track price changes of the flight or hotel you are interested in. This feature sends you price change alerts via emails or SMS  for you to book your flight or hotel at the best or desired price. 

Whereas, a travel agent may not provide you with the service of updating you when the prices are the cheapest. 

Nearby Places

The travel portal applications have geo-location as a feature that can be used to view nearby restaurants or places of interest. The feature comes in handy while you are on a trip and don’t know the place very well. In comparison, travel agents may not be able to provide you this service.


Every coin has two sides to it, which means online travel portals too have a few disadvantages. Similarly, travel agents are a good option if you don’t want to take the trouble of booking a highly customized trip for yourself. However, it is true that online travel portals, are the current trend and have radically transformed the travel and tourism industry. Therefore, based on your requirements, you can decide between travel portal vs travel agents.

Therefore, if you have a travel business that hasn’t yet leveraged the digital world, it is time you consult a travel portal development company to get a travel portal application for your business. Travel portal apps are a good way to double your revenue, increase brand visibility, and increase customer base. One such company thriving in the industry is Enuke Software that provides custom travel portal development services and crafts apps that are best suited for your niche.

Last modified: 7 Jul 2020