US OTAs are seeking inroads into Asia Pacific, expanding into the activities market and determining the value of voice technology

This year promises to be an interesting time in the United States of America (USA) online travel agency market (OTA) as the biggest players aim to gain traction in the Asia Pacific market and increasingly explore options for the use of voice technology.

New research from Phocuswright identifies four key trends to watch this year in the OTA market – a still strong duopoly, the aggressive seeking of inroads Asia Pacific, expanding into the activities market and determining how voice technology can help drive a favourable customer experience.

Phocuswright’s research shows Expedia and Booking remain the largest players in the US OTA space, representing 92% of the market, and those titans continue to look for opportunities outside the flight and hotel segments.

One of the biggest opportunities for OTAs is growth in the activities segment. “Fort OTAs, it’s a largely untapped segment with ample opportunity to add to revenues; 80% of gross bookings still remain offline,” Phocuswright concluded.

Asia Pacific also remains a coveted market for US OTAs. Booking has made a USD500 million investment DiDi and USD200 million in Grab. Users of the Grab app can hail cars offered by DiDi and Grab, and booking hotel inventory supplied by Booking of Agoda.

Phocuswright also highlighted that Expedia bought out the remaining 25% share of AAE Travel and invested USD350 million in SE OTA Traveloka. “These ventures extend mutually beneficial offerings and give Expedia another main APAC alliance in Traveloka,” said Phocuswright.

US OTAs are also working to incorporate new voice features; however, Phocuswright has concluded the share of US online travellers who feel comfortable researching travel through voice is nearing 50%, but interest in voice booking lags. Only one in three US online travellers are currently comfortable with the idea of booking travel products like flight or hotel through voice.