Online & Digital Marketing

The digital heart of the accommodation industry: Online travel agencies

Online travel agencies which emerged years ago and witnessed their golden age in the beginning of the 2000s have now become even more essential for travelers. In our era, online agencies claim a big share of online bookings too, which is actually not surprising at all considering the background and development of online travel agencies.

This development of online travel agencies is a result of a technological build-up dating back to almost 40 years ago. The history of online booking can be explored in 3 stages. The first stage can be the 70s, when Computer Reservation Systems (CRS) were deployed for the first time. The second stage is during the 80s when Global Distribution Systems (GDS) were established by companies like Amadeus, Sabre, Galileo, while the third one is the period beginning in the 90s when today’s online travel agencies were emerged.

If you would like to have a look, here is the timeline of online travel agencies and the stages they have undergone.

The dark ages

The 70s can be considered as the “crawling” phase of the online travel agencies. By the midst of this period, online travel agencies had almost never been able to make use of such technologies. Central reservations system could be deployed by some prominent airlines only. Airline companies that aimed to increase ticket sales contacted agencies for a solution. Therefore, they made it possible for large and medium scale travel agencies to use CRS. This milestone would prove insufficient for CRS systems in time.

GDS and the first steps of online travel agencies

GDS can be basically described as an information network between the tourism companies and travel agencies. During the 80s, Computer Reservation Systems (CRS) were replaced by Global Distribution Systems (GDS) to meet the growing demand. Thanks to GDS, reservations could be made on a global scale. Although these agencies were connected to a network through GDS, they could not be defined as online travel agencies as end users could not access the information. This would change during the midst of 90s.

Online agencies and their inevitable rise

In 1995, a new period began when Microsoft launched Expedia. End users could finally research information regarding where they want to travel to, compare them and even write reviews. During this period, when the interaction with users increased, tourism agencies made their system online one by one. So began the golden age of online travel agencies.

Online travel agencies emerged in response to the need to meet changing expectations, and have increased their market share year over year since the beginning of the 2000s. They have become the rulers of the market today with simplified UIs, the ability to compare different traveling plans, and other developments such as compatibility with mobile devices.

Many traditional travel agencies following global trends are looking for ways to become online. HotelRunner helps them do so in the quickest and most convenient way. Create your HotelRunnner account now and see what we offer yourself.

Cihan Coşkuntuncel

Director of Sales and Business Development

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