OTA v/s local Andaman Travel agent – What’s the right choice?
Do you enjoy planning every little detail of your vacation or want to leave the tiresome part to a local expert and just have fun?
With smart phones and internet access growing in leaps and bounds, everything is just about a click away. So is your dream vacation. Check out photos, read reviews and you are pretty much set. With OTAs increasing in popularity and offering interesting discounts, it seems like holiday packages can be brought right off the shelf like your daily staples. But would you trust an online marketplace with your vacation experience?
The answer is increasingly moving towards a ‘no’. In a chart depicting and predicting digital travel sales worldwide from 2014 to 2020, you’ll notice the trend that actually shows sales slowing down.
With everything actually becoming a DIY, why are people still choosing the traditional offline medium for their travel booking? The answer lies simply in one word – trust. In another survey that was locally conducted on travel choices, many people candidly mentioned that while they used OTAs for their basic research, they trusted a local agent better when it came to key vacations like honeymoons or a once-in-a-lifetime destination vacation.
While OTAs readily offer listings and open up your choices, there was a pushback in terms of trust. What if the hotels did not comply? What if the rooms looked different from the listing? What if you didn’t get the refund?
To counter this, OTAs are now taking on more responsibility. Make My Trip, India’s biggest OTA, launched a recent start studded ad campaign #BefikarBookKar that addressed these issues in a cheeky way to build on the trust factor. In fact, the site went on to launch ‘Assured Hotels’ this March where it categorized over 5000 hotels initially on parameters like service, review, and quality which can help address customer concerns when booking a hotel.
What’s at play here? OTAs are trying to move beyond the listing site to become a pseudo-travel agent of sorts? Will they succeed? The prediction charts don’t seem to think so.
We think it really depends on what you choose an OTA for. Let’s say that you have a 2 day business trip and just need a good hotel booking. An OTA works perfectly in this case.
But what if you were to plan a vacation to Egypt? Would you buy a package online or trust a local tour operator better? The equation changes squarely when there are multiple aspects of a vacation to be managed and everything from the location to language is new and there is everything from cruise to airline tickets that need to be managed.
A local agent has a clear edge when it comes to giving you good vacation deals and more importantly a better service. They have local contacts that can come handy in a variety of situations.
The most important of it all is the human factor – a face, a real person who takes full responsibility of crafting a personalized vacation for you. That doesn’t mean that things will never go wrong. But it may just be better than any ‘assurance’ given by a faceless online platform.