One of the most asked questions that notices these days is “How to Launch an Online Travel Agency?”
And why not? The traveling industry is flourishing at exponential rates and it seems promising to each of us.
Here is what the United Nations World Travel Organization has to say about this,
1.5 billion international tourist arrivals were recorded in 2019, globally. A 4% increase on the previous year which is also forecast for 2020, confirming tourism as a leading and resilient economic sector, especially in view of current uncertainties. By the same token, this calls for such growth to be managed responsibly so as to best seize the opportunities tourism can generate for communities around the world.
Evidently, the industry is thriving with similar future trends. So we now have the answer to why running an OTA is a profitable business.
An OTA is a marketplace of travel-related services.
It provides travelers almost all the services which he is going to need in his journey. On these websites, a traveler can book his flights, buses, and hotels.
Although it is not true that all the OTAs are providing all the services. It basically depends on business to business.
Some businesses only provide only hotel accommodations while some have more services like whole tours and packages.
Now let us check Steps to launch an Online Travel Agency.
Before jumping on to any task first check out the feasibility. Will this work for you is the primary question.
I am emphasizing this because running this business is not an easy affair. You need to consider many things.
The first thing that you have to decide is the region you want to serve. Do you want to go worldwide or you want to have hotels of a certain location only?
You need to find out the best combination that works for you.
When hotel businesses also launch a marketplace to bring in a new dimension to their business.
Let us assume that there is a hotel chain and it launches a marketplace that also has flights, airport pickups, and excursions.
So now the user will find everything on a single platform so they will prefer to book from that hotel chain.
This will not only increase the bookings of that hotel chain but also add commission from other service providers to their revenue.
So you need to make a plan that works for you.
First thing first, you need an investment. If you are a well-established hotel chain yourself then you do not need to worry. But if you want to start from fresh then need investment.
Although the investment for launching such a website will be less than launching a physical entity. But still, investment is required for our next step i.e getting a website.
Apart from the investment, you will also have to work on the legal frontier. You will need some legal certificated and follow some compliances. This will depend on the jurisdiction of your country.
Now, this is one of the most important steps. Your website is the final entity that will get you the business.
This is the step that will consume most of the investment. It seems simple but this is some complex stuff. And without proper knowledge or expert advice.
The first thing that you will have to decide is what method you are going for website development.
Do you want to want to get developed from scratch or you gonna use a reservation system?
If you are developing it from scratch then you will need a server and if you are going to use a reservation system or a PMS then you also have the option to go for SaaS.
But in my suggestion, it is better to host a system yourself on a cloud server. You can have the AWS or Microsoft Azure or any other service and host your platform there.
The next thing inline is getting the services that you are going to sell. You need to as many service providers onboard as you can.
Once you have set up your platform then you are ready to show it to the merchants. You can pitch your website with sample data to show them your concept.
Basically, you can have two types of contracts with service providers.
You can either have their inventory listed on your website and charge a commission on their bookings or you can purchase the inventory from them in wholesale and then sell it with your cut.
The last step is customer acquisition with the help of proper marketing of your website.
After so much of hard work, you cannot just sit and expect people just to land on your website anyhow. You will need a proper marketing strategy for that.
Because you are marketing a website so most of your marketing will be done in the digital world.
In digital marketing there many methods available for you to market your website. You will have to do SEO of your website then you can use an email campaign or a PPC campaign.
Here is the list of Digital Marketing Trends for 2020.
It is a tough process to launch an online travel agency but it is worth all the effort.
So this was my take to make it as simple for you as I can. Please let me know if you have any suggestions.