Many travel customers opt to book products and services via a travel agency, benefiting from the convenience and expertise involved. For this reason, many travel companies look to work with travel agencies, in order to generate more bookings. Here, you will be able to find out more and view a list of the main travel agencies to focus on.
- The No 1. Distribution Channel for Travel Companies
- What Are Travel Agencies?
- Why are Travel Agencies Important?
- Travel Agencies: A One-Stop Shop for All Holiday Bookings
- List of Travel Agencies for Travel Companies to Gain More Bookings
- List of Travel Agencies Specialising in Accommodation
- List of Travel Agencies Specialising in Cruises
- List of Travel Agencies Specialising in Corporate Travellers
- List of Travel Agencies Specialising in Airline Tickets
- List of Travel Agencies Specialising in Tours and Activities
- List of Agencies Specialising in Meetings
- List of Agencies Specialising in Car Rental
- List of International Booking Websites for Restaurants
- Metasearch Engines vs. Travel Agencies
- Examples of Metasearch Engines
- How to Connect to Travel Agencies
- How to Manage Your Inventory With All Travel Agencies
Although travel agencies do represent an important distribution channel for companies in the travel and tourism sector, especially for attracting incremental bookings, it is important to understand that your own website should always be regarded as the number one distribution channel and the reasons for this are numerous.
Firstly, bookings that are made through your own website will not require you to pay a commission in the same way that you would with a booking facilitated by a travel agency. This means you will be able to keep all of the money that customers spend. It also means you can own the customer journey from start to finish, enhancing your options for communication and providing you with additional opportunities for up-selling and cross-selling.
Furthermore, direct bookings allow your business to own all of the vital data gathered throughout the customer journey. This can be invaluable for gaining insights on the behaviour of your customers and specific target groups. By contrast, when bookings are made through third parties, much of that data becomes inaccessible to you.
A travel agency can be broadly described as a business or service provider in the travel industry that offers tourism-related products and services to customers on behalf of suppliers. These suppliers may be businesses within the hotel industry, hospitality industry, cruise industry, airline industry, car rental sector, etc.
For the most part, travel agencies access up-to-date inventories from hotels, airlines and other businesses and then sell rooms, flight tickets or similar products and services to their clients on behalf of those travel businesses. Companies then pay the travel agency a commission fee for generating the sale or booking for them.
A travel agency which provides these services online is known as an online travel agency, or OTA for short.
Why are Travel Agencies Important?
For travel companies, the importance of travel agencies in the modern world is difficult to overstate, because they essentially function as both a marketing and distribution channel. This means that a travel agency can help to spread the word about a travel product or service, while also providing the means for customers to make a booking.
Customers often turn to travel agencies due to the convenience involved. Arranging travel can require a lot of research and it often has many components, whereas by turning to a travel agency, customers capitalise on their expertise and can book all aspects of their travel from one place. This then provides incremental bookings for travel companies.
In some instances, travel companies making sure their products are available through travel agencies can actually help to boost direct bookings too. This occurs because some customers use travel agencies to find airlines, hotels and additional travel products, but then opt to actually book them directly at a later date.
Moreover, there are travel agencies that specialise in providing services for specific types of clients, such as corporate travel agencies, who can assist with business travel management. These travel agencies have the potential to increase bookings from that target demographic, which can help hotels, airlines and other companies to optimise revenue.
In the past, online travel agencies often specialised in catering for a certain aspects of the travel industry. For example, Booking.com began as a platform for booking hotels, Skyscanner was focused on airline bookings, Airbnb was intended for homestays and Hostelworld was a platform for booking hostels.
However, increasingly, online travel agencies are now becoming more of a one-stop shop, catering for all holiday bookings. Platforms like Airbnb and Hostelworld now provide options to book a variety of accommodation types, including homestays, hostels, hotels, B&Bs and even camping trips.
Some platform, like Booking.com and Expedia, now allow you to book a variety of accommodation types, as well as flights, taxis, car rentals, cruise industry tickets and even travel experiences. Effectively, this means a growing number of travel agencies now allow you to plan and book your entire trip from one place.
List of Travel Agencies for Travel Companies to Gain More Bookings
In order to maximise bookings, it is sensible for travel companies to partner with relevant travel agencies, who have access to clients in target groups. To assist with this, below, you will find a comprehensive overview of some of the main travel agencies to be aware of, with these agencies grouped according to areas of specialisation.
List of Travel Agencies Specialising in Accommodation
While they may offer a variety of additional travel products, the following online travel agencies specialise in accommodation bookings, meaning clients turn to them for help in booking hotels, hostels, homestays and more.
Founded in 1996 and owned by Booking Holdings, the Booking.com platform specialises in accommodation bookings, while also offering a variety of other travel products, including flights, cars and taxis. Its HQ is located in Amsterdam and the service caters for customers looking to book hotels, resorts, villas, apartments, hostels, guest houses, bed and breakfasts, and a variety of other lodgings, drawing its accommodation listings from almost 200 different countries.
To list your accommodation with the Booking.com platform, click here.
Expedia was founded in 2001 and has its main office in Seattle, Washington. The platform, which operates as both an OTA and a metasearch engine, has a total of more than 40 localised sites and provides options to book hotels, B&Bs, holiday homes, motels, cabins and other forms of accommodation, while also offering additional travel bookings, such as car rentals, airline tickets, cruise line tickets and travel packages, providing excellent all-in-one convenience.
To list your accommodation with the Expedia platform, click here.
Based in Dublin, with additional offices in London, Sydney, Porto and Shanghai, Hostelworld is an online travel agency that is strongly focused on providing customers with access to hostels, making it an important OTA to target for travel companies operating in that particular sector. However, the service has expanded and, in addition to offering hostel bookings all around the world, it now also provides access to bookings for hotels and B&Bs as well.
To list your accommodation with the Hostelworld platform, click here.
Founded in 2008, Airbnb is predominantly a homestay marketplace, which allows users to list lodgings for overnight stays or book stays in other people’s properties. With that being said, the service has expanded to also list properties like hotels, as long as they meet the platform’s basic criteria. It is a particularly useful OTA to target for travel companies offering more unusual accommodation, which is able to provide a unique experience.
To list your accommodation with the Airbnb platform, click here.
More Travel Agencies Focused on Accommodation
In order to optimise levels of demand and maximise the number of bookings you attract from travel agencies, it is sensible to connect with as many as possible. Some travel agencies allow you to customise your own accommodation listing on their platform, which can also help to showcase what you have to offer and help your property to stand out.
Read “12 Online Travel Agents (OTAs) to Increase Your Hotel Bookings” for a more exhaustive list of OTAs that place an emphasis or focus on accommodation bookings, such as hotels, homestays, hostels and B&Bs.
List of Travel Agencies Specialising in Cruises
Several travel agencies place a particular focus on the cruise industry, and many customers seeking cruises turn to OTAs for assistance with booking. Below, you will find some of the main OTAs specialising in cruises.
The Cruisewatch platform was created in 2016, with the aim of providing users with a way to compare and book cruise packages. The service offers customers options to search based on date, destination, cruise line and more. Unlike many other online travel agencies, Cruisewatch is exclusively focused on the cruise market, meaning it does not provide options to book accommodation, flights, rental vehicles or non cruise-related package holidays.
For more information on the Cruisewatch platform, click here.
2. Avoya Travel
Avoya Travel is an online travel agency with its main office in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The company places a clear focus on ocean and river cruises, while also allowing users to search for tours and resorts too. It is also notable for being an example of an OTA that is still geared towards providing expert help through travel agents or vacation planners, as opposed to focusing on the self-service model. However, self-service options are also available.
For more information on the Avoya Travel platform, click here.
CruiseCritic launched in 1995 and was purchased by TripAdvisor in 2007. The service is based in Pennington, New Jersey and provides users with options to find cruises, based on popular destinations, popular cruise lines and popular ships. In addition to these search and booking options, CruiseCritic is notable for the amount of extra content on the site, including more than 350,000 cruise reviews and expert advice on the different cruise types.
For more information on the CruiseCritic platform, click here.
4. Costco Travel
Costco Travel is owned by Costco Wholesale Corporation and was created in 2000. The platform is exclusively aimed at Costco members and provides travel bookings for users in the United States and Canada. The service emphasises both quality and value and places a strong focus on the cruise market. With that being said, Costco Travel also caters for hotels, airlines, car rental companies and various other travel businesses.
For more information on the Costco Travel platform, click here.
More Travel Agencies Focused on Cruises
If you are running a cruise line or similar business, increasing your reach by connecting to multiple travel agencies can be vital. Essentially, the aim should be to ensure tickets for cruises are easy for customers to find, even if they are unfamiliar with your business, and OTAs are ideal for this.
In “Cruise Industry: Everything You Need to Know About the Cruises”, you will be able to find a list of some of the other travel agencies that either specialise in cruises, or place a significant emphasis on selling cruise tickets.
List of Travel Agencies Specialising in Corporate Travellers
Some travel agencies specialise in dealing with business customers and some businesses outsource travel management responsibilities to these agencies. Below, you can find four of the biggest examples.
1. American Express Global Business Travel
American Express Global Business Travel, or Amex Global Business Travel for short, is a corporate travel management company, which is based in Jersey City, New Jersey. The service offers 24/7 personalised support, allowing business travellers to easily make bookings, adjust their plans and optimise spending. It is an especially useful platform to target for hotels, airlines, transport and event companies targeting the business demographic.
Click here for information about Amex Express – Global Business Travel.
2. HRG Worldwide
HRG Worldwide is based in Basingstoke, England and is now under the ownership of Amex Global Business Travel. It operates as a corporate travel management and expense management company, providing business customers with access to important travel services at affordable rates, on demand. Meanwhile, among the travel companies that benefit from its travel agency services are hotels, airlines and rail companies targeting business customers.
Click here for information about HRG Worldwide.
3. BCD Travel
Located in Utrecht, Netherlands, BCD Travel is a corporate travel company with extensive global reach, offering services in more than 100 countries. While the company primarily works with other businesses or with individual corporate travellers, managing their various travel needs, it also works with hotels, airlines, car rental companies and other suppliers, in order to gain access to favourable rates in exchange for generating bookings.
Click here for information about BCD Travel.
4. Carlson Wagonlit
Carlson Wagonlit Travel (CWT) is a global travel management company, which is able to provide support for business clients in more than 140 countries. Customers are able to benefit from a range of services all in one place, including bookings for flights, hotels, car rentals, train tickets, offering maximum convenience. This convenience helps CWT to generate bookings for other travel companies that may otherwise have been missed.
Click here for information about Carlson Wagonlit.
More Travel Agencies Focused on Corporate Travellers
Corporate travellers can be especially valuable for many travel companies, because they make use of different services than tourists. For instance, in hotels, there may be opportunities to sell conference rooms, while airlines can sell business class seats. This helps to highlight the value of travel agencies focused on corporate travel.
Read “8 Corporate Travel Agents for Hotels to Gain More Business Travellers” to find more travel agencies that can be useful partners if you are looking to attract bookings from corporate travellers.
List of Travel Agencies Specialising in Airline Tickets
Airlines are travel companies that can benefit enormously from partnering with the right travel agencies. Below, you will be able to learn more about four of the most popular travel agencies focused on flights.
Established in Edinburgh, Scotland in 2002, Skyscanner is an online travel agency and metasearch engine, which is now owned by Trip.com Group. It was originally created to help customers to find cheap flights and is a major OTA for airlines and similar travel companies to target. Nevertheless, it has since expanded operations and it does now also include facilities to book hotels and hire cars, along with other travel products and services.
To list your business with the Skyscanner platform, click here.
Cheapflights was established in 1996 and has its main office in London, England. The platform primarily operates as a metasearch engine, with a particular emphasis on airline tickets. Essentially, Cheapflights draws flight listings from airlines, travel agents and travel websites, allowing customers to easily compare prices and find the cheapest flights. The service does also provide options for hotels, car rentals and package deals too.
To find our more about the Cheapflights platform, click here.
Kiwi.com was originally known as Skypicker.com and was created in 2011. The main emphasis of the platform is the sale of airline tickets and, on average, Kiwi is responsible for the booking of around 35,000 seats on aircraft every day. While flights are the primary focus, the platform does also provide users with options to book hire cars, rooms and other travel products, meaning it can be a useful OTA for companies offering those products or services too.
To list your business with the Kiwi.com platform, click here.
Launched in 2001 and based in Los Angeles, California, LowFares.com is a travel website that aims to provide customers with access to affordable flights to destinations all around the world. On top of this, the platform has partnerships with Priceline, Expedia and many more, allowing it to provide access to affordable travel bookings of all kinds, including hotel rooms, cruise tickets, package holidays, car rentals and more.
To find our more about the LowFares.com platform, click here.
More Travel Agencies Focused on Airline Tickets
For airlines, connecting with as many different travel agency platforms as possible can be important. After all, customers use a variety of different methods to book flights and you need your business to be as visible as possible in order to compete. In particular, the focus should be on agencies that specialise in airline tickets and flight information.
In “Airline Industry: All You Need to Know About the Airline Sector”, you will find a larger list of the different travel agencies that are primarily focused on this area of the travel industry.
List of Travel Agencies Specialising in Tours and Activities
Some travel agencies offer the ability for customers to book tours and activities, giving them things to do after they arrive at their chosen destination. Some examples of this are as follows:
Based in Vienna, Austria, TourRadar launched in 2010 and provides users with access to bookings for tours and other travel experiences. The platform showcases offerings from a wide range of different tour operators. Furthermore, TourRadar also relies on a lot of user-generated content, including customer travel reviews, making it easier for travellers to identify and book the trips they have always wanted to go on.
To find our more about the TourRadar.com platform, click here.
TourScanner was founded in 2018 and is a metasearch engine, which is geared towards tours and travel experiences. The service aggregates results from thousands of online platforms and presents them in an easy-to-read format, allowing users to identify the best tour offerings, compare prices and book, all in one place. It is an especially valuable platform to connect with if you manage a tour operator business or a visitor attraction.
To find our more about the TourScanner.com platform, click here.
Tour Amigo is based in Brisbane, Australia and launched in 2015. It allows users to view and compare tour packages and make bookings from a central hub. The service has access to listings from more than 40 leading tour operators and advertises more than 7,000 tours in total. Moreover, aside from it’s tour-based offerings, Tour Amigo is also useful to connect to if you are a travel company offering insurance products or flight tickets.
To find our more about the TourAmigo.com platform, click here.
4. City Unscripted
Based in London, England, City Unscripted is a unique online platform, which aims to connect travellers with private city tours, operated by the local residents who know and understand those cities best. The service launched in 2014 and also provides travellers with opportunities to find and book unique city experiences. As a result, it is a great service to connect to if you are a tour operator, tour guide or travel host.
To find our more about the CityUnscripted.com platform, click here.
List of Agencies Specialising in Meetings
Some travel companies are able to offer useful facilities to guests and meeting rooms are a good example of this. Hotels and other venues may opt to connect to the following travel agencies, with a view to boosting demand.
Founded in 1999, Cvent is based in Tysons, Virginia and operates as a hospitality and events management company. The business is heavily reliant on its software solutions and provides businesses and professionals with access to sourcing options for meetings, business events, conferences and trade shows. It is a solid option if you are seeking a travel agency that can generate bookings for venues, hotel conference rooms or similar facilities.
To list your business with the Cvent.com platform, click here.
Meetings are a significant part of business travel and MeetingBookers.com caters for this demographic first and foremost. The platform provides users with options to book meetings in destinations all around the world and it is estimated that it currently lists close to 140,000 spaces in total. With that in mind, it is an example of a travel agency able to promote and generate bookings for meeting rooms, venues and other similar spaces.
To list your business with the MeetingBookers.com platform, click here.
VenueFinder is located in London, England and is primarily focused on the UK market, although it does offer bookings for venues all around the world. The venues that are available for travellers to book cater for business events, conferences, trade shows, exhibitions, weddings and more. It has a track record of generating bookings for hotels, conference centres, country clubs, golf clubs, castles, leisure centres, bars and restaurants.
To list your business with the VenueFinder.com platform, click here.
The Meetings.com platform is owned by the same company that runs HotelPlanner.com, but while that platform is centred on hotels, this one is focused on meetings and events. Its main office is located in West Palm Beach, Florida and the service itself launched in 2002. Unlike many similar platforms, Meetings.com has a team of experts who research and create a list of viable venues, often generating bookings for travel companies by making recommendations.
To list your business with the Meetings.com platform, click here.
List of Agencies Specialising in Car Rental
Car rental is an important part of the travel industry and customers often use online services to find the best deals available. For this reason, it can be useful to connect with the following agencies specialising in this area:
Founded in 2004 and previously known as TravelJigsaw, the Rentalcars.com platform is now part of the Priceline Group. It operates in more than 60,000 locations around the world, across more than 150 different countries, and the business is responsible for generating approximately 8 million car rental bookings every year. As a result, it is an extremely valuable platform for car rental businesses to connect to.
To learn more about the Rentalcars.com platform, click here.
CarRentals.com is an e-commerce platform that centres around the car rental sector and the business forms part of the Expedia Group. It allows customers to find and compare car rental services in their chosen destination and pay in advance, in order to lock in discount prices. For car rental businesses, connecting to the platform can help to increase bookings and the platform caters for luxury, economy, van, SUV and special vehicle markets.
To learn more about the CarRentals.com platform, click here.
Based out of Hamburg, Germany, HappyCar is a car rental metasearch engine, which was launched to the public in 2013. Users select their chosen destination and the service provides listings from car rental companies in the area, allowing travellers to easily find the best prices or the most suitable vehicles. Although it was originally aimed at the German-speaking market, it has since expanded operations to countries like the United States, Spain, France and Italy.
To learn more about the HappyCar.com platform, click here.
The AutoRentals.com platform launched in 2012 and was originally aimed at the United States market exclusively. However, since that time, the service has expanded and it is now focused on providing car rental bookings on a global basis. The service provides customers with access to real-time information on availability and pricing, and links to booking engines on third-party platforms, with AutoRentals.com receiving a commission for bookings generated.
To learn more about the AutoRentals.com platform, click here.
List of International Booking Websites for Restaurants
Restaurants represent another major area of hospitality management, and there are a number of booking websites that can assist you with attracting more table reservations, including the following three examples:
Founded in 1998, OpenTable is an online business that specialises in restaurant reservations. The company itself is based in San Francisco, California and is owned by Booking Holdings. While its services are mainly focused on the United States, it is also a useful platform for restaurants in the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, France, Australia, Japan and Mexico. It is estimated that the service is used by 30 million restaurant diners every month.
To connect your restaurant to the OpenTable platform, click here.
Previously known as Dimmi, TheFork now operates as part of the TripAdvisor portfolio and has its main office in Sydney, Australia. It functions as a cloud-based restaurant reservation system, with restaurants connecting to the platform, in order to increase the number of reservations they generate and TheFork charging a commission for bookings generated in this way. Connecting with the service can also make restaurants more visible on TripAdvisor too.
To connect your restaurant to TheFork’s platform, click here.
Founded in 2012 and based in Berlin, Quandoo is a service used by approximately 17,000 restaurants worldwide, in order to boost distribution and attract more reservations. It is primarily targeting customers and businesses in Europe and is currently used by restaurants in the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, Finland and more, but its global reach has also expanded to Hong Kong, Singapore and Australia too.
To connect your restaurant to the Quandoo platform, click here.
For customers, online travel agencies and metasearch engines often function in a similar way and some platforms actually operate as both. However, there are crucial differences between them and these differences are especially important to understand for travel companies looking to generate supplementary bookings.
A metasearch engine retrieves information from other websites and presents the information in an easy-to-digest format. Within the travel industry, this will typically mean drawing information about flights, hotel rooms, car rentals, restaurants and travel packages, and presenting them in a list format, making price comparisons easy. Yet, metasearch engines do not actually sell inventory directly and instead link users to external booking platforms.
By contrast, an online travel agency will actually sell inventory on behalf of travel companies, in exchange for a commission. They will usually have their own in-built booking engine and travel companies pay the commission in order to benefit from the increased number of bookings, even if direct bookings would be preferable.
Examples of Metasearch Engines
Although travel agents represent one of the biggest distribution channels, metasearch engines can help to generate extra demand for travel products and services too. Below, you will learn more about some of the biggest metasearch engines that provide price comparisons and booking links for travel customers.
1. Google Hotel Ads
Originally known as Google Hotel Finder, Google Hotel Ads is a major target area for many travel companies, because it integrates fully with the main Google search engine. This allows hotel ads to display on search engine results pages and Google Maps, maximising visibility. It is important to remember that, for many people, Google is the default search engine and therefore the main starting point when searching for travel products.
Click here for more information about Google Hotel ads.
Launched in 2000, TripAdvisor is based in Needham, Massachusetts and initially functioned solely as a review platform, built around the idea of customers leaving publicly accessible reviews of hotels, restaurants and travel destinations. Although that is still a key part of the website’s offering, it also operates as a metasearch engine, allowing users to find, compare and book hotel rooms, holiday rentals, package deals, flights, hire cars and cruises.
Click here for more information about Tripadvisor.
Kayak.com is a metasearch engine, which originally launched in 2004 and which is owned by Booking Holdings. The service is available in more than 20 languages and has more than 60 international sites. It offers customers the chance to find, compare and book flights, hotels, holiday packages, hire cars, travel insurance products and more. It also allows travel companies to connect with a booking engine, in order to share real-time inventory information.
Click here for more information about Kayak.
More Travel Metasearch Engines
There are a wide number of travel-based metasearch engines, each focusing on different aspects of the industry or having different qualities to offer travellers and travel companies alike. Some platforms primarily make money through cost-per-click advertisements, while others receive a commission from sales.
Read “List of Hotel Metasearch Engines to Grow Your Hotel Bookings” and you will be able to find a longer list of the metasearch engines that are relevant to the hotel industry and other parts of the travel industry.
How to Connect to Travel Agencies
Once you have identified the travel agencies you think will be best equipped to help you to increase the number of bookings you receive, you need to connect with them and there are a number of options available here.
1. Connect Directly with Travel Agencies
The first option for a company hoping to connect with a travel agency is to attempt to do so directly. Many OTAs provide this option, allowing businesses to connect their own hotel, airline, car rental company, cruise line or other offering to the platform. In most cases, a commission fee will need to be paid for any bookings generated.
Connecting directly may provide options to customise and manage your company profile on the platform, which can be beneficial for helping your business to stand out from rival companies in the same location.
2. Connect Via Global Distribution Systems
When an offline travel agent looks up information about the availability of flights, hotel rooms, rental cars and other similar products or services, they do so using a global distribution system, or GDS for short. These systems, which may also be used by OTAs, allow travel agencies to easily compare prices and see real-time availability.
With this in mind, in order to attract more travellers to your business, you should connect with all of the major global distribution systems. When you do this, and make your inventory and pricing information available to them, you can significantly boost the number of bookings you generate from travel agents.
3. Connect with Metasearch Engines
If the platform you are targeting primarily functions as a metasearch engine, rather than an online travel agency, connecting may be slightly different. Although some of these platforms still provide options to connect directly, they do not usually use GDS systems. Instead, they will find results by searching OTA websites.
However, metasearch engines all search different platforms and some give priority to one OTA over another. Therefore, in order to show up in as many metasearch engine results pages as possible, you should connect your travel company to a range of different OTAs. If direct connection is an option, you should also take advantage of that opportunity.
How to Manage Your Inventory With All Travel Agencies
One of the potential difficulties for travel companies involves managing the distribution of inventory across a wide number of different channels, because each channel needs to have up-to-date information about how many hotel rooms, airline seats or other inventory items are available for sale.
For most situations, the best solution is to find reliable distribution channel management software. For instance, if you are involved in hotel management, you can use a hotel distribution channel manager, and there are solutions for other travel companies too, allowing OTAs and global distribution systems to receive real-time data.
Working with travel agencies is beneficial for many companies looking to sell travel products and services to a wide audience. Travel agents are able to reach people who may otherwise be unaware of your business and, using the list of travel agencies provided, you can increase demand, which can help you to optimise revenue and occupancy.