Presented by FlightHub

Soon after the Second World War, global travel has been on a steady upward trajectory. In fact, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), there were 56 times more international tourists in 2018 than in 1950 — 25 million to 1.4 billion. In other words, travel has grown astronomically.

In an increasingly travel savvy society, travelers want quick and accurate information about their bookings. As a result, millions of customers have turned to online travel agencies and metasearch engines. Still, many travelers retain the traditional approach of buying their flights directly from airlines.

FlightHub and Justfly discuss the business of booking travel with online travel agencies, metasearch websites, and airlines.

Online Travel Agencies (OTAs)

An online travel agency focuses on three things: customer convenience, products, and services. Some OTAs specialize in niche sectors of travel, ie: adventure tours. However, larger online travel agencies often operate as one-stop shops. They usually offer cruises, vehicle rentals, flights, hotels, and more.

OTAs obtain permission to resell on behalf of suppliers through legal agreements. Knowing the difference between the provider and reseller is important. This is particularly true concerning cancelled flights and delays.

To facilitate the customer experience, a simple rule of thumb is to ask, “Who is my flight, cruise, accommodation or activity with?” The answer to this question is a good starting point.

Metasearch Engines (Aggregators)

Increased access to the Internet has made metasearch engines a popular research tool for the public. To make booking experiences more convenient, metasearch platforms can display the most recent and relevant rates published by several platforms in seconds.

“Booking travel can often be a time-sensitive task,” states FlightHub and JustFly’s Matthew Keezer. “Being able to compare prices for several companies all at once accelerates the process.” There’s one pivotal difference between online travel agencies and metasearch engines — the former has inventory, the latter does not.

Similarly to OTAs, metasearch platforms generate profit from contracts with airlines. They’re typically compensated for redirected website traffic and sales. It’s also worth noting that some hotel aggregator sites have begun experimenting with direct booking, effectively turning them into OTAs.


Airlines don’t need to be explained, but they can be expanded upon. FlightHub and JustFly have put together a few key points for the average traveler to better understand airlines:

  • Airlines can be privately owned or government owned
  • In general, there are three types of airlines: major, national, and regional
  • Major: Generally popular, large number of routes, more than 1 billion in revenue per year
  • National: Bigger regions, some international routes, $100 million – $1 billion in annual revenue
  • Regional: Smaller regions, routes not serviced by larger airlines, $20 million – $100 million in revenue yearly

Beyond the different categories, clients can book directly with airlines. Searching for flights one site at a time takes longer. To compensate customers for their loyalty, many airlines let travelers benefit from reward programs.

Booking travel can be daunting. Ultimately, where and how a person plans or books a trip boils down to preference. That said, understanding the best ways to book is essential.

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