Subject to social distancing and self-isolation measures, venturing into an in-store travel agency will no longer be an option for customers over the next few months. Therefore, the appeal of an online travel agency (OTA) may gather greater traction.

GlobalData’s 2019 consumer survey saw 44% of global travelers book with an OTA compared to 17% with an in-store travel agent. This percentage of global travelers booking with an OTA is likely to increase further due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The global market value of online travel intermediaries hit US$332bn in 2019, increasing by 6.2% from the previous year. By 2023, pre-COVID-19 forecasts from GlobalData for the online market value of travel intermediaries was predicted to be US$446bn, having grown at an expansive CAGR of 7.7% between the years 2020-2023.

This predicted CAGR may even increase. Prospective travelers may opt to use OTA’s in the short term after the impact of COVID-19 has lessened. Consumers will still be hesitant of human contact, which will occur in places such as high-street travel agencies.

Window shopping for post COVID-19 holidays a boost for OTA sector

The World Travel and Tourism Council predicts that global tourism flows will be affected by at least 25% this year. This is equivalent to the loss of three months of travel at the least. The market value of global travel intermediaries – in-store and online – will be dramatically effected for 2020. However, pent up demand for travel will be growing rapidly. Consumers can only window shop for holidays online now. OTA’s can take advantage of this by using their online presence to advertise deals for late in the year.

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In a world becoming more technologically reliant, COVID-19 will create an even greater dependence on a digitally-driven future of travel.  Social distancing and self-isolation are becoming the norm for prospective travelers worldwide. The appeal of face-to-face communication with an in-store travel agent may take time to be restored.