Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About OTA Customers, But Were Afraid to Ask

By: Rafael del Castillo, Senior Director, Mexico Resorts & Caribbean Market Management, Expedia Group

SOUTH FLORIDA – Everyone knows, or thinks they know, a lot about Online Travel Agency (OTA) customers: they’re value conscious, brand agnostic shoppers who spend a lot of time searching online for the perfect hotel or vacation situation.

While all true, when it comes to their impact on the Caribbean hotel business, here are a few more things you should know:

Rafael del Castillo, Senior Director of Mexico Resorts & Caribbean Market Management for Expedia Group on the OTA customer
Rafael del Castillo, Senior Director of Mexico Resorts & Caribbean Market Management for Expedia Group
1. OTA Customers are young
  • Half of Gen Z and nearly half of Millennials say visiting an online travel agency website is how they prefer to book transportation and accommodations, per a research study conducted by Expedia and The Center for Generational Kinetics.[1] Thirty-six percent of OTA customers are between the ages of 25 – 39, a blend of Gen X and Millennials.  What do we know about these customers?
  • Nearly 50 percent of millennials and almost 40 percent of those ages 31-45 have planned and/or booked travel using a smartphone.[2] In fact, only 18 percent of people under 30 have NOT used a mobile device for travel. 
  • Travel market reports tell us that Millennial guests are accustomed to using mobile devices and rely heavily upon traveler reviews for both shopping and booking. They favor traveling in groups, often in pursuit of an interest. 
  • Expedia Group data also shows that Millennials tend to be less brand loyal than their parents, although they do like loyalty programs and will share personal data to receive perks and other bonuses
2. OTA customers are tech savvy

Currently, about one third of Expedia Group transactions are from travelers using mobile devices and over 50 percent of Expedia’s online traffic stems from mobile users. Simply keeping up with the digital expectations of today’s tech-savvy consumer is no longer an option. Exceeding those expectations is a travel industry imperative.

3. OTA customers value convenience when shopping for travel.

Several Caribbean destinations saw high package share such as Punta Cana (nearly 75 percent share), Ocho Rios (more than 70 percent), Montego Bay (almost 70 percent), Aruba and Nassau (nearly 65 percent). * OTA customers are more likely to book where they can get a package deal than customers who usually book directly with the brand. Additionally, customers who book their flight and hotel together in a package stay twice as long, book twice as far in advance and cancel half as often as those who only book a hotel room.

4. OTA customers come from the four corners of the world.

Expedia Group customers come from 200 countries worldwide. As of June 2018, growth of international arrivals (excluding the U.S. and Canada) was recorded in twelve Caribbean destinations. Arrivals from the U.S. and Canada grew in eleven and ten destinations, respectively.[3]

5. OTA customers from the Latin American region primarily travel on personal trips, not on business.

An Expedia Group Media Solutions study reveals that Latin American travelers take nearly twice as many personal trips as business trips.[4] In order for Caribbean and Latin American hotels to be successful in today’s business landscape, they must understand the needs and wants of leisure vs. business travelers.

6. OTA customers recognize brand value.

While they may not be loyal to one particular brand, 82 percent of OTA customers like to book with familiar hotel chains.

7. OTA customers try new things

Sixty-two percent of OTA customers report that they like to try out different hotels.

*Last 12 months ending June 2018.

Data referenced in this article is Expedia Group first-party data unless otherwise notated.

South Florida Caribbean News

The Team provides news and information for the Caribbean-American community in South Florida and beyond.

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