OTAs support one in four Australian tourism jobs and generated a quarter of the $28.4 billion spent by international tourists in the year to July 2018, a new study has found.
The data, from independent consumer insight consultancy BVA BDRC, paints a picture of the positive economic influence of OTAs on Australian accommodation providers and their communities.
Conducted on behalf of Expedia Group, the study assessed the booking behaviours and spend activity of travellers to and within Australia.
It found OTAs are a significant contributor to Australian tourism, generating $7.1 billion in international tourist spend over the 2017/18 financial year and providing a “valuable research tool”.
Expedia argues the research shows OTAs provide a platform for Australian tourism operators to expose offerings that travellers may not have known about otherwise.
“In fact, seven out of ten travellers – both international and domestic – choose to use OTAs in the research process, whether they purchased from an OTA or not,” said a spokesperson.
For hotels, OTAs were shown to deliver high value guests who spent an average of $385 (19 percent) more on paid accommodation per trip than their non-OTA booked counterparts.
According to Expedia, the research shows bookers also generated a significant flow-on economic impact, particularly in regional communities. OTA bookers were revealed to spend an average of $275 (17 percent) more on in-trip activities and meals than non-OTA bookers. They were also more likely to spend an extra night in coastal and outback areas than hotel-direct bookers, who spend the majority of their nights in urban environs.
Abhijit Pal, head of research at Expedia Group, said: “This is a critical piece of research that provides tangible economic figures on the positive impact OTAs have in supporting Australian tourism.
“OTAs facilitate travel by bringing premium, high value visitors to and within Australia, who can really influence the profitability of tourism across the nation.
“While this is felt across both domestic and international travel, it’s the capability of OTAs to seamlessly bridge Australia to the world that is providing the most substantial impact.”
OTA bookers were more likely than to hotel-direct bookers to opt for an independent property or a brand they may not have heard of previously, according to the study.
Matthew Petrie of BVA BRDC said: “For international travellers, Australia is often a once-in-a-lifetime destination, however with its geographical spread, the destination options are seemingly endless, and knowledge of what to do and where to stay can be overwhelming.
“It’s why the model of using third parties – whether that be online or offline agents – isn’t new for the Australian tourism industry.
“Travellers want to limit risk by researching thoroughly, booking via trusted providers and making sure every dollar is stretched as far as possible.”