When it is time to book your holiday there are a few methods available to you. Each has its pros and cons, so it’s about educating yourself on what is right for you.
The travel industry is made up of three core market segments.
- meetings, incentives, conference and events (MICE)
Within the Leisure travel industry, there are three key booking methods:
- Direct with the supplier
- Online Travel Agent (OTA)
- Travel Agency
We are going to explore booking direct, so you can determine if this method is the right fit for you.
What is a travel supplier?
When referring to a travel supplier, we are talking about airlines, hotels, and car hire – not to be confused with a travel agent or a travel consolidator like booking.com. We will dive into these in our upcoming blogs. Suppliers are the operator of the service such as Qantas, Marriott and Europcar.
Direct booking benefits – supplier and traveller
Travel suppliers enjoy direct bookings because they are not having to pay third-party commissions, global distribution system (GDS) pass-through fees, and it’s an opportunity for them to grow their ‘owned’ audiences through new subscribers or loyalty programs.
As a traveller, booking direct will ensure you are confirming your reservation with no additional third-party terms and conditions which may come with booking via other channels. Other benefits include:
- You will be able to modify your booking directly with the supplier and not have to liaise with third parties
- Loyalty rewards can be redeemed or accrued
- Increased chance of special requests awarded
- Opportunity to take advantage of supplier direct special offers.
- The travel suppliers knows their service inside and out, which limits any misinformation provided.
Things to consider before booking direct
Whilst booking directly could be considered as the most effective and simplest way to book, it’s important to understand the supplier may not specialise in post-sales customer service or ongoing booking management. Depending on whether you are booking with an airline, hotel, car hire, or tour operator, will determine the customer service offering. Not all operations are 24/7, so it’s important to consider the following:
- Is the supplier available 24/7 in the event of an emergency or if I am phoning from another time zone?
- Is my itinerary too complex to be liaising with multiple suppliers individually?
- How much time will be utilised – placed into queues and on hold?
- What is the major benefit for me by booking direct? What level of importance do I place on this?
Travel Agents provide a service only. They are not the operator, so it is only natural they place a high level of value on customer service. If you seeking assistance and recommendations, someone to manage your booking on your behalf, then this is where booking direct may not be for you.
Why do travel suppliers use traditional and OTA’s?
If suppliers prefer direct bookings, then why would they use third parties to sell their services? Quite simply it broadens their distribution channels and customer reach. Whilst it might be a cost to their business, it is an investment that drives more bookings and revenue that may otherwise be missed. It is also an opportunity for the supplier to then convert the customer to a direct one.
When deciding how you are going to book your holidays, there is no one right answer. Each holiday will be unique and as such there will be different variables to consider. It will be about weighing up the pros and cons of each booking method and what will work best for you. Educating yourself on the options available will be important to making a decision that is fit for your purpose.