A lot has changed in the online travel industry in the UK – and this continues to evolve. From OTAs that were born in the early days of the dot com boom to some newer arrivals. The theme that emerges, however, is consolidation and aggregation. Companies have folded but they have usually been acquired by a competitor.
The latest in this storyline is Superbreak and Laterooms.com. They went into administration in late summer 2019. Laterooms has since been partly acquired by Secret Escapes (intellectual property) and partly by Snaptrip. Founded in April 2014, Snaptrip is a marketplace for last-minute cottage holiday deals in the UK.
Here are some of the established OTAs in the UK.
Alpharooms offers online bookings for hotels and flights along with holiday extras including airport transfers, car hire and travel insurance. The company was set up over 15 years ago (early 2000) In October 2016, Alpharooms was acquired by Truly Holdings Ltd, the parent company of Truly Travel Ltd, which operates the Teletext Holidays brand.
Netflights.com was part of the Gold Medal Travel Group and offers online bookings for flights, hotels, holidays and car hire. Established in 1992 as the Airline Network, it was acquired by Dnata, part of the Emirates Group in 2014.
Skoosh is an OTA that has continually challenged the monopoly of the large OTAs on price-fixing, rate parity and related clauses.
Loveholidays is a popular OTA and also featured in the Sunday Times Fast Track 100. The parent company is Want2bthere Limited and they operate from London and Lancing.
Travel Republic started in 2003 and is now owned by Dnata, (since 2011) which is a part of the Emirates Group. Offers beach breaks, city getaways and family holidays and the possibility to book with Holiday Deposit schemes and flexible payment options.
Travelbag was founded in 1979 and Stella Travel Services and they have a presence on the high street in the UK and online. They specialise in creating tailor-made holidays to long haul holiday destinations from the UK.
STA Travel also started in 1979 and is owned by the Swiss Diethelm Keller Group, with headquarters in Zurich and London. Its niche is in catering for students and younger travellers. Has both an online model and over 200 high street travel shops worldwide.
Hotel Direct was one of the internet pioneers in the UK and started operations in 1997. They offer a selective approach to hotels they feature in a city. The company also offers rail breaks and theatre breaks.
Travel Up started in 2004 and offers flights, hotels, car rental, travel insurance, packages and last-minute deals. Subsidiaries include Bookable Holidays and Flying Eagles (brand Travelgenie) which were acquired in 2014. The Group also includes Bravo Travel, offering holidays to Latin America and Magic Holidays that do bespoke holidays to Florida and other destinations in the US.
On the Beach is an OTA based in Manchester that specialises in short and medium-haul ‘Flight + Hotel’ beach holidays to Europe.