Travel agents represent a major distribution channel for those in the hotel industry, helping them to connect with a greater number of leisure travellers and corporate guests. To capitalise, hotels need to list their properties with online travel agents and connect with the main global distributions systems, so that a travel agent can view real-time inventory information. In this article, you will find out about eight key travel agents to work with.

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What Are Travel Agents?

Travel agents or travel agencies are service providers that specialise in the sale of travel-related products to customers. However, crucially, these products and services are offered on behalf of businesses operating within the sector, including airlines, hotels, tour operators, insurance providers and car rental companies.

A travel agent will usually either receive a commission from the companies they sell on behalf of, or they will charge customers a fee for their services. They may open their platform up for hotels to list their properties, or use a global distribution system to access real-time information about availability. Popular examples of global distribution systems include Amadeus, Worldspan, Galileo and Sabre, and these also allow for easy price comparisons.

Many travel agencies now operate in the online sphere and these are referred to as online travel agents, or OTAs. They will typically offer similar services, selling travel products on behalf of others, but will generally include an online booking system and allow for a greater amount of self-service than their offline counterparts.

Why Are Travel Agents So Useful?

For hotels seeking leisure guests, travel agents can be invaluable, as they connect their customers’ needs with what you have to offer. Additionally, with online travel agents in particular, they serve a dual purpose when it comes to hotel management, functioning as both a distribution channel and a way of promoting or drawing attention to your hotel.

In some cases, this marketing effect can be particularly beneficial, as some customers may turn to a travel agent or OTA, become aware of a hotel, and then book their hotel room directly, resulting in your hotel keeping more of the revenue. However, even when a commission does need to be paid, this is far preferable to having an empty room.

When it comes to business travel, many companies turn to corporate travel agents to assist them with their travel management. By ensuring your hotel is listed with the major GDS systems in the business travel sector, you can help to increase the chances that these travel agents send their customers to your hotel.

Additionally, it is important to understand those travel agents will often provide hotels with incremental bookings. In other words, these are bookings that your hotel would otherwise go without. This is because some customers like the convenience of booking through a travel agent and will not take the time to explore their options independently.

5 Travel Agents to Gain More Leisure Guests

With so many different travel agents operating within the current marketplace, it can be difficult for those in the hotel industry to know where to start. However, some travel agents can be particularly helpful when it comes to attracting leisure guests and the following four are good examples:

1. Booking.com

travel-agents-booking-com

An online travel agent and metasearch engine, Booking.com is based in Amsterdam, Netherlands and offers close to 30 million listings in total, spread across 200 countries, while the website is available in more than 40 languages. Users can book hotels, flights, airport taxis, car rentals and more. From the perspective of a hotel, it allows properties to reach a global audience, while 24/7 support is also available to these hotel listers.

To visit the website, click here.

2. Expedia

travel agents expedia

Expedia.com is an online travel agent, based in Seattle, Washington, which offers its customer’s hotel bookings, flights, cruises and car rental services, selling these products and services on behalf of suppliers. It offers localised websites in dozens of countries around the world and Expedia’s own marketing efforts place an emphasis on value, so connecting with this travel agent can be ideal for hotels looking to promote affordable accommodation.

To visit the website, click here.

3. Agoda

travel agents agoda

Based in Singapore, Agoda is owned by Booking Holdings, the parent company of Booking.com. It is an online travel agent, which has a reach of more than two million customers across more than 60 countries. Historically, Agoda has placed a strong emphasis on the Asian market, which can make it ideal for hotels looking to attract guests from that part of the world. It is also notable for relying more heavily on a merchant model than Booking.com.

To visit the website, click here.

4. Airbnb

travel agents airbnb

Airbnb is different from the other online travel agents on this list, as it is a hospitality marketplace, which primarily deals with homestays and experiences. In more recent times, it has expanded to include listings for hotels, although its requirements are fairly strict and these hotels need to show they meet the criteria. Nevertheless, it can be an especially useful platform for hotels that have unique features, qualities, aesthetics or services they wish to promote.

To visit the website, click here.

5. Hotwire

travel agents hotwire

Hotwire is a travel website, which is based out of San Francisco, California, and is owned by the Expedia Group. Unlike many other travel agents, Hotwire specialises in selling hotel rooms and other travel products that have gone unsold after being made available through other channels. Buyers are able to access cheaper, last-minute deals, hotels are able to sell off unsold inventory, and the opaque sales model means participating companies are not revealed until after the customer has paid for the travel product so that these sales do not influence pricing elsewhere.

To visit the website, click here.

More Travel Agents to Gain More Leisure Guests

Ultimately, travel agents can help your hotel to become visible to a greater number of customers. As a general rule, the more travel agents you connect with, the more visible your hotel will be and the more visible your hotel is, the more leisure guests you are likely to attract. Of course, you also need to consider commission rates, and other factors.

In the article “12 Online Travel Agents (OTAs) to Increase Your Hotel Bookings”, you will find more information about online travel agents, along with other examples of OTAs to work with, in order to attract leisure guests.

What Commission Do These Online Travel Agents Charge?

In the vast majority of cases, online travel agents make money by booking travel products and services on behalf of their clients and then charging the suppliers a commission for generating that business for them. Effectively, this means they will charge a percentage of the amount the customer paid for their booking(s).

The precise rates of commission can vary quite significantly from one OTA to another, but it is fairly typical for these rates to range from 10 percent to 25 percent. The calculation for hotels centres on the fact that OTAs generate bookings that may otherwise be impossible to attract, but the distribution channel itself is expensive.

5 Corporate Travel Agents to Gain More Corporate Guests

Those responsible for hotel marketing and distribution must draw a distinction between leisure guests and corporate travellers, as they have different habits and are looking for different things. The following four corporate travel agents can be particularly useful for increasing the number of business travellers you attract.

1. American Express Global Business Travel

travel agents american express business travel

American Express Global Business Travel is a leading corporate travel agent and travel management company, specialising in assisting businesses and business travellers with their corporate travel requirements. At present, tt has operations in more than 100 countries around the world and makes bookings for its customers, including hotel reservations, using various global distribution systems, including the likes of Sabre, Travelport and Amadeus.

To visit the website, click here.

2. Carlson Wagonlit

travel agents carlson wagonlit travel

Carlson Wagonlit Travel, or CWT, is a corporate travel agent and event management company. It serves more than 140 countries in total, representing an excellent opportunity for hotels to reach corporate travellers from all over the world. CWT books travel products and services for its customers, and accesses up-to-date information about hotel room availability through GDS systems, such as Amadeus, Sabre, Travelport and Galileo.

To visit the website, click here.

3. BCD Travel

BCD Travel is a Dutch company, which specialises in corporate travel management, offering its customers bookings for hotels, flights and other travel products, along with policy compliance services. The company places a strong emphasis on finding the best value for money for its clients and it makes its bookings through global distribution services like Travelport and Amadeus. In total, BCD Travel is active in more than 100 countries around the world.

To visit the website, click here.

4. HRG Worldwide

travel agents hrg worldwide

Hogg Robinson Group, better known as HRG Worldwide, is a global business travel agent, which is based in the United Kingdom. The company is a subsidiary of American Express Global Business Travel and stresses its provision of 24/7 support for business clients. The HRG Worldwide network spans 120 countries and the company makes its hotel and flight bookings through the Worldspan, Sabre and Galileo global distribution systems.

To visit the website, click here.

5. TravelPerk

travel agents travelperk

Established in 2015, TravelPerk is a travel management company, with headquarters in Barcelona, London and Berlin. TravelPerk sells travel products to businesses and allows those businesses to manage their travel through the platform. This can include, among other things, tracking expenses, viewing reports, accessing invoices, booking flights, trains and hotels, and accessing deals from other travel agents. Customer support is delivered on a 24/7 basis and users even have the option to offset their carbon emissions, resulting in greener business travel.

To visit the website, click here.

More Corporate Travel Agents

Many businesses and business travellers do not have the time, skills or patience to fully manage their own travel arrangements, so they outsource to corporate travel agents instead. For hotels, one of the key challenges when attempting to attract more business travellers is making sure your hotel can be accessed by these travel agents.

In the article “8 Corporate Travel Agents for Hotels to Gain More Business Travellers”, you will learn about the importance of corporate travel agents, along with more examples of some of the best travel agents to partner with.

How to Connect to Corporate Travel Agents

Generally speaking, corporate travel agents will compare the prices and check the availability of hotel rooms, flights and other travel services at the same time, using a global distribution system to do so. These GDS systems provide access to real-time information, allowing them to offer better travel management services to their clients.

With this in mind, hotels can attract a greater number of corporate travellers to their property by connecting with all of the major global distribution systems. Doing so, and setting up your listings in these systems properly, can significantly increase the chances of a corporate travel agent choosing your hotel for their customers.

What Are the Costs Associated With Business Travel Agents?

Business travel agents generally rely on global distribution systems to make their bookings. For this reason, hotels do not generally connect with each travel agent individually. Instead, the costs associated with a corporate travel agent are linked to actually connecting with these global distribution systems.

A GDS will usually charge you a fee for each booking they generate for you, which may amount to around 10 percent of each booking. Additionally, there may be an initial set-up fee to contend with. Hotels sometimes charge slightly more for each room, in order to off-set the fees, but the balance is keeping rates low enough to still attract bookings.

How to Manage Your Hotel Inventory With All Travel Agents

Working with as many travel agents and global distribution channels as possible is important for maximising your reach. However, it can also present a real problem, because inventory information needs to be made available and kept up-to-date across all of these platforms. Fortunately, hotel distribution channel management solutions can help.

These solutions will allow you to manage all of your distribution channels, such as Expedia and Booking.com, as well as all of the major GDS systems, from a single place. In the article “Hotel Distribution Channel Manager: What Are the Advantages?” you will be able to find out more information about the positives associated with these solutions.

Do Not Neglect Your Most Important Distribution Channel

While travel agents are an important part of a hotel distribution strategy, it is vital that you do not rely on them exclusively and neglect your most important distribution channel – your own website. Direct bookings should always be the preference, because they do not require you to pay commission to another company. This means you will keep all of the money from the booking and the more direct bookings you attract, the more revenue you will generate.

In the article “8 Tips To Gain More Bookings With Your Hotel Website”, you will learn to generate direct bookings.

Travel agents play an important role in hotels, serving as both a distribution channel and a way of advertising your property. Crucially, by making your hotel accessible to travel agents, you can attract leisure and business guests who may otherwise be unaware of your hotel, as well as those who are unwilling or unable to book a room directly.

More Distribution Tips to Optimise Revenue

The distribution mix that hotels choose to use have a significant impact on their marketing and revenue management strategy, and on their overall success. In the following articles you find more distribution strategies to optimise your revenue:

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Revfine.com is a knowledge platform for the hospitality & travel industry. Professionals use our insights, strategies and actionable tips to get inspired, optimise revenue, innovate processes and improve customer experience. You can find all travel industry tips in the categories Marketing & Distribution, Staffing & Career and Technology & Software.

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