There will always be a place for the ‘niche players’ in the online travel market.
Tamara Lohan, co-founder and chief technology officer at Mr & Mrs Smith, told the Navigating Digital in Travel conference in London, organised by digital agency the Bio Agency, that even though “TripAdvisor has gone all OTA on us”, there will always be room in the market for brands like hers.
“There are lots of big players out there and these big giants want to be the new GDSs.
“They have come along and consolidated the process. But that isn’t to say there isn’t a place for the niche, the curated, the trusted.
“Even a massive player like British Airways has our site listed on theirs, because of our reputation as niche.
“Let them play out their big plays. There is still space for others in the business.”
Justin Wateridge, managing director of luxury travel specialist Steppes Travel, added: “In reality we are in a different section of the market to the likes of Amazon, and we have a different price point.
“If someone is spending thousands of pounds they want to be able to talk to someone. Where tech comes in is tailoring the experience for the customer as much as we can.
“Additionally we are a safety net. That is why we have duty managers who are there to react if anything goes wrong while a customer is away.
“This is where the large scale OTAs fall down. Good luck trying to contract them if something goes wrong. Our team will go to any end to make sure the customer is happy.
“Whatever it takes, it is so important to have that offline capability, and that’s where OTAs can’t compete with us.”