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What is the meaning / definition of OTA, in the hospitality industry?

OTA stands for: Online Travel Agency.

OTAs are online companies whose websites allow consumers to book various travel related services directly via Internet. 
They are 3rd party agents reselling trips, hotels, cars, flights, vacation packages etc. provided / organised by others.

Travel shopping via online agencies has become very popular nowadays. Especially in the last minute segment and also because of the frequent usage of the smartphones. Today consumers are on-the-go and the advantage of a booking engine and the reservation solutions provided by the OTAs is that it offers instant payment and booking confirmation.

Examples of the most commonly known OTAs are:

  • The Priceline Group (Booking.com, Priceline.com, agoda.com, KAYAK, rentalcars.com, OpenTable)
  • Expedia, Inc. (Expedia.com, Hotels.com, Egencia, Hotwire, Trivago, Venere.com, CarRentals.com, Classic Vacations, Expedia CruiseShipCenters, Expedia Local Expert (LX), Wotif Group, Travelocity)
  • TripAdvisor Inc (tripadvisor.com)

Synonyms for OTA are Alternative Distribution System (ADS) and Internet Distribution System (IDS).