Allowing users to make simultaneous searches on different databases and search engines, meta search sites pose a serious risk for the future of online travel agencies. Apparently, the entry of search engine giants like Google into online booking market has ruined the plans of online travel agencies. All these developments bring up the question “Is the future of online travel agencies in danger?” Well, the answer is “no”. At least for the time being.
For independent next-gen consumers who care for their budget and have low brand loyalty, even the thought of someone else planning their own travel seems unacceptable. The strongest alternative for this mater is niche markets. Preferred by a limited number of people, “niche tourism” refers to tourism types that are far away from the traditional “all-inclusive” concept. This emerging trend of traveling brings a refreshing breath for the online agencies.
How are the agencies across the world doing currently? What are the different niche tourism examples and how can OTAs make the most of new trends?
Traditional agencies and global studies looking into booking habits provide an insight to the possible future of OTAs.
For instance, the retail sales points in the US steers currently at 13 thousand levels, down from 34 thousand in the mid 90’s. However, even this relatively-low number corresponds to a large share of 100 billion dollars in 2011, i.e. one third of the country’s travel industry revenue. Currently, there are 7300 travel agencies in Turkey, a number which has been growing steadily.
In Asian countries like Japan and Korea, traditional booking methods are still relevant mostly because of travelers not speaking the language of destination country. It is observed that in Germany traditional communication remains a key manner of communication due to credit card-related restrictions.
No matter what the figures are, the concept of a traditional travel agency offering overall travel packages 10-20 years ago is arguably obsolete now. As the online booking market grows, a new agency model becomes dominant that aims at specific fields like luxury and business travels and places more emphasis on individual relationships and experience. Here are some examples of these niche markets:
Niche tourism examples
For instance, OTAs choosing to specialize in the field of business seek ways to make travels cost-effective by analyzing the travel habits of a business. Some of these agencies, which operate like a consulting firm, are popular among executives. This is because such agencies screen the available options to lighten the burden of this audience of executives who have limited time and invoice their expense to their company.
Luxury markets draw attention as a sustainable model that is in harmony with the model of online agency. According to experts, customers with high income who are in their 50s care about this experience. According to the report of PhoCusWright, cruises and yacht tours are also like a survival kit in the luxury travel market. There are agencies that provide niche travel planning services for one-time travels like honeymoons as well as services for athletes or students or even for journalists.
Apart from those we have covered, there are also innumerable niche travel examples such as historical trips, shopping, culture and art tours, healthcare or gastronomy tours. The diversity in all fields of products and services stand out in travel industry as well. It is arguable that only, the agencies that have better insights regarding the upcoming trends, special needs and behaviors of their customers and use sales and marketing channels effectively will survive.
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