October 13, 2015

How travelers are eliminating the middleman and what it means for travel brands

Twenty years ago, aspiring travelers planned trips with travel agents in person. Ten years ago, they booked with online travel agency sites. Today, they engage directly with brands.

Thanks to the accessibility of travel brands online, travelers are more confident and self-reliant than ever before. Today, they take ownership of their travel, lodging, and activities rather than relying on travel agents to act as middlemen, assisting with booking and recommendations. In fact, only 58 percent of travelers got information from an OTA during the past year, down from 84 percent in 2014. Even among travelers who typically look for travel information on OTA sites, only 13 percent end up booking through them (down from 36 percent).

This significant shift in approach offers a valuable opportunity for travel brands to meet customers where they live, work, and play--on social media. By leveraging user-generated content to elevate their brands, they also influence potential travelers. Peers tend to trust endorsements or reviews from those who are in their networks. But even positive reviews from strangers can work in a brand's favor--and they're wise to capitalize on it.

Get the full story at Inc.com