27 Feb 2014

Does the rise of the OTA mean the demise of the destination’s voice?

Given the rise of the Online Travel Agent (OTA) and Peer Review sites and the way in which this focuses attention on individual businesses, attractions and activities, how do destinations find a voice and presence on the web? 

Where does the community find a voice and opportunity to present their place?

The rise of the OTAs – and peer review sites, such as TripAdvisor, has been inexorable and a real game changer. TripAdvisor has sites operating in 34 countries, including China and claims more than 260 million unique monthly visitors, and over 125 million reviews and opinions covering more than 3.1 million accommodations, restaurants and attractions. Booking.com is available in more than 40 languages, and offers over 428,000 properties in 195 countries. They have 5000 affiliate partner websites and claim that they book more than 2.8 million room nights every week. Companies like Trivago then enable consumers to find the cheapest by scanning 196 booking sites – they have 45 million users per month.

The destination websites run by DMOs are under increasing pressure as consumer switch to using OTAs to book hotels, attractions and activities. In the EU DMOs are also impacted by the State Aid provisions in Article 107* of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, which state: “Save as otherwise provided in this Treaty, any aid granted by a Member State or through State Resources, in any form whatsoever, which distorts, or threatens to distort competition by favouring certain undertakings or the production of certain goods, shall insofar as it affects trade between Member States, be incompatible with the internal market”