As part of our “Five Questions With…” series, we chatted with Demetrius Canton, Expedia’s director of market management for the Caribbean, about the evolving relationship between OTAs and travel agents, as well as the hottest trends in Caribbean travel.
1. The relationship between OTAs and travel agents has been a tricky one over the years. How has that relationship evolved? Is it safe to say OTAs are now trying to partner with travel agents as opposed to compete with them?
Initially distribution is how we evolved as a company through our marketplace. But today, we’re putting our technology expertise and test-and-learn culture to work to identify and nurture new strategic initiatives that meet our partners’ and customers’ needs.
We are dedicated to the travel agency community and offer a partnership program, Expedia Travel Agent Affiliate Program, known as TAAP, which is the largest global travel agency affiliation program dedicated to providing service to travel agents around the world. Currently, TAAP is available to both United States and Caribbean travel agencies, through Expedia.com/TAAP. We launched this service in the U.S. and the Caribbean in 2010 and since 2011 have seen rapid growth in GBV (growth base volume), number of agencies and number of TAAP agents.
The program offers agents an intuitive platform to research, plan and book end-to-end trips for clients, while earning commission. The program gives agents access to Expedia’s global inventory of over 350,000 properties and more than 500 airlines, letting them earn competitive commissions on hotels, dynamic packages, cars, and activities.
We are currently launching a first of its kind program in the Caribbean with registered U.S. TAAP travel agents who book an Expedia TAAP hotel in Barbados between April 19 and July 31. Agents will be entered to win the grand prize to Barbados, which will include an eight-night trip to the destination including roundtrip airfare, hotel and transfers for two. The campaign, in conjunction with the Barbados Tourism Marketing, Inc. (BTMI) will also include two webinars and periodic e-mail blasts to promote Barbados to approximately 45,000 current U.S. and Caribbean TAAP agents. As I mentioned, we are a test-and-learn company constantly evolving our business and transforming the way we work with our partners. We’re about helping our partners reach incremental customers through our technology advancements.
2. What Caribbean destinations have been selling the most in 2017? What are some emerging island destinations in 2017?
Unfortunately, we cannot comment on 2017 travel demand until Q1 earnings are announced in late April. What I can say is that during 2016 some of our top destinations were Punta Cana, Dominican Republic; San Juan, Puerto Rico; Aruba; Montego Bay and Ocho Rios, Jamaica; and Barbados.
Additionally, destinations which showed significant growth in 2016, compared with the previous year, were St….