Best Online Travel Agencies
Booking.com is our top choice for making your trip arrangements
Ligaya Malones is an editor, blogger, and freelance writer specializing in food and travel. Ligaya's work has appeared in publications including Lonely Planet and BRIDES.
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Planning a trip can be easier through an online travel agency than if you handle each aspect of the planning separately. You can book hotels, air travel, rental cars, and more through a single site, and booking everything together sometimes results in discounts. By inputting a destination, a range of dates, and other preferences, you will see a list of options for each aspect of travel.
The best online travel agencies offer options from the largest number of airlines, hotels, car rental agencies, and more. Look for sites that offer discounts for combining reservations for different aspects of your trip. For example, the best sites will have lower rates if you book both plane tickets and a hotel through their services. The best sites also provide reviews from customers who actually have booked through the service. These are our top picks.
Best Online Travel Agencies for 2023
- Best Overall: Booking.com
- Best Budget: Skyscanner
- Best Price Predictor: Hopper
- Most Innovative: Kiwi.com
- Best for Eco-Conscious: Kind Traveler
- Best for Social Impact: I Like Local
- Best for Design-Forward Homestays: Plum Guide
- Our Top Picks
I Like Local
- See More (4)
Frequently asked questions, methodology, best overall : booking.com.
This industry leader offers one of the most comprehensive trip planning platforms on the Internet.
Lots of options to choose from
Interface is easy to use
Numerous filters to customize your search
Tricky to tell whether changes/cancellations can be made with Booking.com or the vendor directly
Booking.com was founded in 1996 and has grown into an industry leader that stands out for being one of the most comprehensive trip planning platforms out there. From one website, you can compare and book accommodations, flights (including one-way and multi-city flights), sightseeing activities, and even airport taxis. The website lists more than 28 million accommodation options, from hotels, hostels, and B&Bs to vacation homes and luxury resorts—you can browse more choices per destination on Booking.com than other online travel agencies. The website also performs well on cost and typically returns lower-than-average prices for flights and hotels.
Booking.com's interface is also easy to use. On the home page, search for a hotel by entering your chosen destination and dates. Then, use the extensive list of filters—such as price range and distance from the city center—to narrow the results down and find the best fit. You can also search for a specific hotel, or seek inspiration by clicking through options grouped by destination or property type or by topic such as the country’s best Michelin-starred hotel restaurants or the top cities for vegan travelers. The flights, car rental, and other tabs are just as intuitive.
Best Budget : Skyscanner
You can compare prices across airlines, hotels, and car rentals.
Option to toggle searches between specific dates or by monthly calendars
Search Everywhere button is great for spontaneous planners
Extra clicks are required to make a final purchase
Must read fine print for changes/cancellations—may need to deal directly with the vendor
Ads on the sidebar can be distracting
Find deals on airfare, hotels, and car rentals with an aggregator site like Skyscanner , which uses a metasearch engine to compare prices from all online travel agencies and the airline, hotel, or car rental company in question. Run searches with fixed dates, opt to compare airfare prices month to month, or click “Cheapest Month.” Searches also include options for nearby airports or non-stop flights only. With hotel searches, you can choose to select only from properties with free cancellation, a cleanliness rating of 4.5/5 or higher, or 3- or 4-starred hotels only. Car rental searches include an option to select “return car to different location.”
Once you’ve found the best rate, click on the link to be redirected to the third-party site to make your booking. Feeling spontaneous? The Search Everywhere button on the homepage offers a list of the cheapest flight deals for destinations both locally and across the world—just plug in your departure airport first.
Best Price Predictor : Hopper
The company claims a 95 percent accuracy rate at predicting when flights and hotel rates will be cheapest.
Color-coded system makes it easy to determine cheapest days to buy
App is easy to use
Option to track flights and receive alerts when the best time to buy arises
Some have mentioned the app functions better as a research tool than a booking tool
Unclear whether Hopper will price match if you find a cheaper flight elsewhere
Hopper is a travel app available on iOS and Android that aims to help travelers save on airfare by usng historical data and their own algorithm to predict when flights will be cheapest. Just type in where and when you’d like to fly and Hopper will present you with a color-coded pricing calendar indicating how much tickets are likely to cost. (Green is the least expensive, then yellow, orange, and red for most expensive.) Hopper will also recommend you either buy now or wait, or you can choose to watch a trip and receive notifications on the best time to buy. In addition, the app has expanded to offer hotel and car rental price predictions, too.
Some newer features since the app’s inception in 2009 include an option to freeze a price for a limited time—for an extra fee—as well as exclusive app-only discounts. Hopper is free to download, and you can choose to book directly through the app, though some users mentioned they use Hopper as more of a research tool before booking directly with the airline or hotel. The company claims a 95 percent accuracy rate at predicting flight rates up to a year ahead.
Most Innovative : Kiwi.com
This metasearch engine scours the web to piece together the ideal itinerary using planes, trains, buses, and more.
Creative itineraries get you where you need to go, especially if you’ve got a multi-stop trip
Kiwi Guarantee offers rebooking or cancellation protections
Nomad option appeals to travelers with a lot of flexibility
Creative itineraries mean you may not fly out of the same airport you flew into
Kiwi Guarantee has an additional fee
Charges all-in-one fee for booking flights, trains, buses (though you can always purchase a la carte)
Travelers planning multi-city destinations and seeking a bargain, as well as those looking to take planes, trains, and automobiles to get there, might consider Kiwi . Kiwi is a metasearch engine that scours and pieces together itineraries from various airlines (even if they don’t have a codeshare agreement), considers multiple airports (even if your arrival airport is different from departure), and offers booking options, whether you’re looking at very specific dates or more general ones (up to 60 nights).
Some will find the ability to make multiple bookings for a particular trip more convenient than going at it manually several different times, though note that you must opt into the Kiwi Guarantee program to access rebooking and refund protections should your reservation change or be canceled. Kiwi’s Nomad option allows you to plug in a bunch of destinations you’d like to visit and the length of your intended stay, and the website will churn out the most affordable itineraries for review.
Best for Eco-Conscious : Kind Traveler
A give-and-get business model means booking accommodations with exclusive perks, a donation to environmental organizations, and more.
All participating hotels include a local give-back component
Exclusive savings and perks
Participating hotels are located in some of the most beautiful places in the world
Inventory is much smaller compared to other booking platforms
Some of the amenities mentioned are based on availability only
In 2022, Kind Traveler (an online trave agency focused on hotel bookings) announced an increase in environmentally and socially conscious hotels, charity donations, voluntourism opportunities, and additional perks like waived resort fees or a welcome amenity.
Unlock exclusive hotel rates and perks from participating Kind Traveler hotels with a minimum $10/night minimum donation to a local charity. For example, stay at the Six Senses Laamu in the Maldives and receive up to $33 off the nightly rate and perks such as a food and beverage credit and an Earth Lab or Alchemy Bar workshop when you make a donation to Manta Trust. The organization funds coastal research to protect the island nation’s large yet fragile population of reef mantas.
Select from more than 140 participating hotels from the Hawaiian Islands to Bozeman, Montana, and the Maldives. Charities include wildlife, human rights, arts, education, and environmental preservation organizations.
Best for Social Impact : I Like Local
Choose from a host of travel experiences with the peace of mind that 100 percent of the cost goes directly to local partners.
Social impact mission woven into organization’s business model
Immersive experiences led by local guides
Range of experiences offered
May not be best fit for those seeking upscale, luxury experiences and stays
Can’t sort experiences by a list of countries (though an interactive map is available)
No experiences outside of Africa and Asia
For an online travel agency with a booking platform designed to route dollars spent directly to the communities travelers intend to visit, consider I Like Local . Visit the website to browse a host of travel experiences in countries including Indonesia, Kenya, and Cambodia. Experiences include homestays and farmstays as well as wellness and culturally oriented experiences—from cooking and cycling tours to weaving classes.
To search for an experience, select from drop-down items like travel dates and experience categories, or view a global map and click on a country to view experiences that way.
The platform got its start in 2014 and has grown to 4,000 local hosts across nearly 20 countries. As a social impact organization, 100 percent of each booking fee goes to local hosts. To date, 16,000 travelers have booked with I Like Local.
Best for Design-Forward Homestays : Plum Guide
Browse and book seriously vetted, design-forward vacation homes.
Highly curated inventory of vacation rentals across the world
Thorough vetting process
Does not publish guest reviews
Other platforms have homes available across more destinations
When it comes to booking a vacation home, serviced apartment, or condo, travelers are spoiled for choice. Plum Guide is an online travel agency that specializes in accommodations—though not just any home makes its directory. The company claims that each potential home listed on its site must jump through 150 hoops to be included, from internet speed and mattress and pillow quality to the showers’ water pressure and the home’s proximity to dining, shopping, and attractions.
Search by a featured collection on the website such as “ pet-friendly homes ” or “one-of-a-kind homes in Palm Springs.” Scroll to the bottom of its homepage to view its top destinations, as well as a list of all destinations where Plum Guide homes are available, including Barbados, Mexico, Portugal, Switzerland, the U.S., and Turkey. Note: From the top right-hand corner of the site, use the dropdown menu to select currency of choice.
As long as you know what you value most out of your travel experience—such as affordability, social impact, or luxe accommodations—there’s an online travel agency to help plan your next trip. Be sure to read the fine print, as some agencies are third-party websites and not direct vendors. If you're not sure where to start, Booking.com is your best bet for a smooth user experience and hard-to-beat offers on flights, hotels, and other travel arrangements.
What Is the Biggest Travel Agency?
Our choice for best overall, Booking.com, is known as an industry leader with listings for all major hotels, airlines, car rental companies, and more. It boasts more choices for accommodations per destination than any other site, and we found its interface to be user-friendly.
Are Online Travel Agencies Worth It?
This depends on your needs and priorities. The best online travel agencies certainly can save time by booking everything all at once. However, if you're someone who is good at haggling and enjoys the details of planning a trip, you might be able to find better deals by reaching out to hotels or other destinations and speaking to someone personally.
Is It Cheaper to Book Online Than With a Travel Agent?
Not always. A travel agent you know and trust should have the experience and connections to find deals that can match or surpass what you'll find online. Additionally, if something goes wrong, travel agents provide you with an actual person you can use as an advocate to correct the problem . But if you don't have access to a good travel agent, online sites still provide plenty of ways to streamline planning and save money .
We considered dozens of online travel agencies and narrowed down the options based on user experience, volume and quality of inventory, unique offerings and specials, and customer reviews. We also assessed travel companies’ environmentally and socially conscious policies.
Catherine Falls Commercial / Getty Images
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Ranking the best online travel agency rewards programs
When I was in graduate school, I would book conference lodging for other students. In doing so, I collected thousands of dollars of rewards through online travel agency (OTA) programs. But, even if you're only booking for yourself, you may find value in booking through OTAs .
Many travelers use OTAs to compare prices and book travel and although OTAs are easy to use, you won't always get the best price. You may not even get elite night credits and perks at hotels when you book through OTAs. So, it's best to compare what you find through an OTA against booking directly with the travel provider.
However, not all OTAs offer rewards programs and some programs provide only minimal value. So, today I'll describe and rank the best OTA rewards programs.
Get the latest points, miles and travel news by signing up for TPG's free daily newsletter .
What to know before booking through an OTA
First off, know that booking through an OTA may not be the best option. You won't find some travel providers, such as Southwest Airlines , on most OTAs. And, you may find a lower price when you book directly.
Besides, you usually won't earn hotel points and perks when you book through an OTA . Instead, you usually must book directly with the hotel loyalty program to get elite earnings and perks. On the other hand, you'll usually earn airline miles when you buy your ticket through an OTA . But, the airline might classify your ticket as bulk or consolidated. And, this may yield fewer miles.
Finally, if things go wrong, you might find yourself caught in the middle of a finger-pointing match. Specifically, the OTA and travel provider may blame each other if your flight is canceled or your hotel is overbooked . So, both parties may claim the other needs to rebook you or provide compensation. Unfortunately, some travelers have learned this the hard way when trying to cancel travel during the coronavirus pandemic .
So, it's important to realize the potential pitfalls and consider the benefits of booking directly with the airline or hotel . But, if you decide to book through an OTA, you might as well choose one that earns plenty of rewards.
Related: Online travel agency vs. booking direct: Your guide to the best way to book your next hotel
Ranking the top OTA rewards programs
- Hotels.com Rewards : Best return on hotel bookings
- Orbitz Rewards : Best perks for frequent users
- Booking.com Genius : Best for easy to earn status that can provide confirmed upgrades and breakfast
- Expedia Rewards : Best for redeeming for a wide variety of travel
- Trip.com Rewards : Best for onsite perks when you need them
Now, let's take a closer look at each of the programs and options for maximizing your bookings.
Hotels.com's loyalty program is called Hotels.com Rewards . And, in addition to being one of the most straightforward OTA rewards programs, it offers substantial value. Plus, you can book many top hotels through Hotels.com , including hotels perfect for a summer vacation or family vacation .
Earning and redeeming
The Hotels.com Rewards program offers you a reward night for every ten nights you stay. The value of your reward night is equal to the average rate you paid across the ten nights. However, this calculation doesn't include any taxes and fees. So, let's assume you:
- Stay seven nights in a hotel with a nightly rate of $100 before taxes and fees
- Stay three nights in a different hotel with a nightly rate of $200 before taxes and fees
In this case, you'd earn a reward night worth $130. However, you'll still need to pay taxes, fees and other incidental costs on your reward night. And, there's a $5 redemption fee if you redeem your reward night using the desktop or mobile web site. But, you can avoid paying the $5 redemption fee if you use the mobile app when you redeem.
Some strategy is helpful when using your reward night. If you use your reward night for a stay that costs more than the value of the reward night, you must pay the difference. But, if you use the reward night for a stay that costs less than the reward night, you'll forfeit the difference. So, you'll want to use your reward night on a stay with a nightly rate just slightly higher than the reward night. When you do, you'll get an almost 10% return on hotel spending through this program.
Related: 7 of the most interesting Hotels.com properties
Hotels.com Rewards offers basic status and two tiers of elite status. Specifically, the base level status is called Rewards. And, Rewards status provides the following perks:
- Secret prices
- Earn and redeem as described in the previous section
You can earn Silver status by staying ten or more nights within a membership year, which is based on the date you created your account. Silver perks include the following:
- Priority customer service
- Hassle-free guarantee: Hotels.com will help minimize property charges or cancellation fees if you need to change or cancel a reservation.
- Price Guarantee Plus : If you find a better price on exactly the same stay, Hotels.com will match it and refund the difference.
- Guaranteed Wi-Fi at VIP access properties
- Extra perks at select properties
Once you reach 30 nights in a membership year, you'll earn Gold status in the Hotels.com Rewards program . Gold elites enjoy all the same perks as Silver elites, along with complimentary room upgrade, early check-in and late checkout subject to availability at VIP Access properties.
As you can see, Hotels.com Rewards elite status has few tangible benefits. So, the main reason to use this program is earning and redeeming. After all, getting a reward night after every ten nights is pretty sweet.
Related: Can you earn elite status and benefits when booking through Hotels.com?
Orbitz launched its Orbitz Rewards loyalty program in October 2013. And, like Hotels.com Rewards , Orbitz Rewards aims to be simpler than the average OTA rewards program.
Whenever you book travel through Orbitz, you'll earn Orbucks based on the kind of purchase you make:
- 1x on flights and packages (1% return)
- 3x on hotels, vacation rentals and activities (3% return)
- 5x on hotels and vacation rentals booked on the Orbitz app (5% return)
Orbitz deposits Orbucks into your account when you book. Then, you can cash in Orbucks toward hotel stays at more than 385,000 hotels worldwide. When you do, one Orbuck equals $1 off your hotel stay.
You can use Orbucks to pay for part or all of a stay. If you use Orbucks, the Orbucks you redeem will be subtracted from the total amount due. Unfortunately, you can't redeem Orbucks for anything besides hotel stays and vacation rentals.
Related: How do you cancel airline tickets issued by a travel agency?
Orbitz Rewards offers elite status to frequent bookers. You'll get Silver status just for signing up, which gets you the following perks:
- Access member-only prices
- Earn Orbucks when you book flights, hotels and packages
- Access to Rewards customer service line
You'll earn Gold status by staying four nights in a calendar year. On top of the perks provided to Silver elites, Gold elites also get unique amenities at VIP Access properties.
And, you'll get Platinum status after staying 12 nights in a calendar year. In addition to the perks available to Gold elites, Platinum status unlocks the following perks:
- Up to $50 Orbucks in reimbursement for travel expenses each calendar year
- Seat assignments and upgrades, bag fees , in-cabin pet fees and inflight Wi-Fi all count
- Apply for TSA PreCheck for free every five years
- Get free room upgrades and early check-in when available at VIP Access properties
Earning Platinum status could be worth it if you can use the $50 Orbucks credit for eligible travel expenses. This is especially true if you don't already have one of the top credit cards for TSA PreCheck .
Related: 5 reasons to get TSA PreCheck now
If you're looking to boost your earnings with Orbitz, you could open the Orbitz Rewards Visa Credit Card. This no annual fee card earns Orbucks at the following rates:
- 10x on Pay Now properties booked on the Orbitz app (10% return)
- 8x on Pay Now properties booked on Orbitz.com (8% return)
- 6x on all flights booked on Orbitz.com (6% return)
- 5x on all other Orbitz.com purchases (5% return)
- 2x on all other purchases (2% return)
However, remember that you can only redeem Orbucks for hotel stays and vacation rentals booked through Orbitz. But, if you use Orbitz frequently, this card may be a good choice. The card also comes with lost and stolen baggage coverage . Plus, as a cardholder, you'll get a 6-month CLEAR trial membership and $60 off automatic renewal.
Related: Should you get TSA PreCheck or CLEAR — or both?
The Booking.com Genius loyalty program is a bit different than most of the other programs described in this guide. Specifically, there aren't any chances to earn or redeem rewards within this program. And, there's no cobranded credit card for this program. But, you can earn elite status. And, best of all, it's easy to do so and lasts for life.
The Booking.com Genius loyalty program has two elevated Genius levels. And, once you earn these levels, you'll keep your status for life.
To earn the first level, Genius Level 1, you must stay twice within two years. But, this level only provides one perk: a 10% discount at select hotels.
But, Genius Level 2 isn't much more difficult to earn. To earn Genius Level 2, you must stay five times within two years. And, Genius Level 2 provides the following perks:
- 10% and 15% discounts at select hotels
- Free breakfast at select hotels
- Complimentary room upgrade at select hotels
You can see which hotels offer discounts, free breakfast and room upgrades when you search.
So, as a Genius Level 2, you can ensure an upgrade. After all, you can book into an upgraded room at select hotels for no extra cost. And, this gives much more value than a space-available upgrade.
You won't earn any rewards within the Booking.com Genius program . But, if you're looking for a deal or upgraded room , you may find it sorting by hotels with Genius perks.
Related: Booking.com makes a big move against resort fees
Expedia's rewards program, named Expedia Rewards , provides a loyalty program that's similar to Orbitz Rewards . However, with the Expedia Rewards program, you can redeem for a wider variety of travel.
When you make travel purchases through Expedia, you'll earn points based on the kind of travel purchased:
- 2 points per $1 spent on hotels, cars, packages, things to do and cruises (1.4% return)
- 1 point per $5 spent on full-service airlines (0.14% return)
Also, you'll earn double points on all bookings made through the Expedia app. Plus, as we'll discuss in the next section, elite members can earn points faster.
When you're ready to redeem, simply sign in to your account and start the booking process. Once you get to the checkout page, select "Use my points" under the payment section. If you don't want to use all your points on this booking, enter the amount you wish to use.
However, if you are booking a hotel, you'll need to "Pay now" if you're using points. And, if you're booking airfare, you'll need enough points to cover the entire cost. For every 140 Expedia Rewards points you redeem, you'll save $1. So, each point is worth about 0.7 cents. But, points are worth double when you book a VIP Access hotel.
Related: The complete guide to the Expedia Rewards loyalty program
There are three membership tiers in the Expedia Rewards program . You'll earn Blue tier status simply for joining Expedia Rewards. And, at the Blue tier, you'll get the following perks:
- Save an extra 10% or more on select hotels with member prices
- Earn Expedia points
- Hotel price guarantee (Expedia will match any lower price you find until midnight before your stay)
- Early access to sales and other exclusive member offers
You'll move to Silver status if you spend $5,000 on eligible bookings or stay seven nights within a calendar year. In addition to the perks available at the Blue tier, Silver elites get the following perks:
- 10% more points when you book
- Extra perks at VIP Access hotels , including 250 bonus points just for booking
- 24/7 expedited customer service via the Silver member number
And, you'll earn Gold status if you spend $10,000 on eligible bookings or stay 15 nights within a calendar year. On top of the perks available at the Silver tier, Gold elites get the following perks:
- 30% more points when you book
- Free room upgrades when available at VIP Access hotels
- 24/7 expedited customer service with specialized Gold agents via the Gold member number
The perks provided by the Expedia Rewards program aren't all that impressive, nor is the earning. I'd recommend giving this program a pass unless you have a compelling reason to book through Expedia.
Related: Why points and miles are a terrible long-term investment
If you are all-in on the Expedia Rewards program, you may want to consider one of the following cards:
Expedia® Rewards Card from Citi
- 3x points on eligible Expedia purchases and 1x points on everything else
- Automatic Silver status
- Earn one elite-qualifying hotel night toward Gold status for every $2,500 in purchases on your card each calendar year
- No foreign transaction fees
- No annual fee
Expedia® Rewards Voyager Card from Citi
- 4x points on eligible Expedia purchases, 2x points at restaurants and on entertainment and 1x points on everything else
- Automatic Gold status
- $100 annual air travel fee credit
- 5,000 bonus points if you spent $10,000 in the prior cardmember year
- $95 annual fee
The information for the Expedia Rewards Voyager and Expedia Rewards Card from Citi has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Related: Battle of the mid-tier hotel cards: Which card outshines the others?
Trip.com's rewards program, named Trip.com Rewards, is similar to Expedia Rewards and Orbitz Rewards . In particular, you can earn and redeem rewards on flights and hotels. And, you can earn elite status based on your activity within the program.
When you make travel purchases through Trip.com, you can earn points in three ways:
- 25 Trip Coins per $100 spent on flights
- 80 Trip Coins per $100 spent on hotels
- Up to 140 Trip Coins per hotel review
But, as I'll discuss in the next section, members with elite status can earn 10% or 30% bonus Trip Coins.
When you're ready to redeem your Trip Coins, you have options. You can exchange Trip Coins for flight and hotel promo codes, instant savings on hotels and hotel perks. But, if you redeem for instant savings, 100 Trip Coins are worth $1. To use Trip Coins for instant savings, simply select "Save with Trip Coins" during the booking process. However, some bookings may not have this option.
It's unclear how much value can be obtained from Trip Coins when you redeem for promo codes and hotel perks. But, based on the instant savings redemption rate, I wouldn't place too much value in Trip Coins.
Related: Why you might not get housekeeping service during your next hotel stay
There are four membership tiers in the Trip.com Rewards program. And, to advance to higher levels, you must earn tier points by booking flights and hotels. Specifically, you'll earn tier points as follows:
- Flights : Earn 25 tier points for every $100 spent
- Hotels : Earn 80 tier points for every $100 spent
Now, here's what you need to know each membership tier.
Interestingly, membership tiers are adjusted each month based on the tier points you've earned in the last 12 months. As such, it requires a fair bit of spending to reach the Platinum and Diamond tiers in this program.
Additionally, members at higher tiers in the program get additional perks. You can exchange zero Trip Coins for these perks when booking hotels marked with "Trip Coin Benefits":
- Gold members : One free breakfast, room upgrade, late checkout and free cancellation
- Platinum members : Two free breakfasts, room upgrades, late checkouts and free cancellations
- Diamond members : Four free breakfasts, room upgrades, late checkouts and free cancellations
However, you must select perks at the time of booking. Perks are provided on a limited, first-come-first-served basis depending on hotel availability. Especially since the high membership tiers require a lot of spending to reach, I wouldn't put too much value in these perks.
Related: The best credit cards to jumpstart elite status
Earn airline miles with OTAs
Finally, some OTAs allow you to earn airline miles for hotel bookings. Three of these OTAs are Agoda (through its PointsMAX program), Points Hound and RocketMiles .
Some of these programs advertise up to 10,000 airline miles per night in earnings. But, in practice, I've yet to find a good enough value to use any of these programs. However, these OTAs can be a good option if you want to earn more miles in a program you already use. Likewise, you may be able to use these OTAs to generate account activity in little-used programs. And, this activity may allow you to keep your points and miles from expiring .
Related: Using Rocketmiles to earn points and miles on hotel stays
Maximize your OTA booking
When booking through an OTA , you may be able to quadruple-dip on rewards. Specifically, you may be able to earn all of the following:
- OTA rewards
- Online shopping portal rewards
- Credit card rewards on the purchase amount
- Travel provider rewards
However, there are some caveats. You can still earn airline miles when you book through an OTA . But, most hotel loyalty programs won't offer elite earning or benefits on OTA bookings . And, some OTA rewards programs may not provide rewards when you click through an online shopping portal. So, be sure to read the fine print for your OTA and travel provider.
Related: TPG reader question: Which credit card should I use in shopping portals?
Although I regularly used OTAs when I traveled less frequently, now I usually book directly with major airlines and hotels . After all, elite earning and perks matter at hotels now that I live on the road as a digital nomad . And, it's often easier to deal with flight cancellations or changes when you book directly with the airline.
But, I do still use OTAs in some cases. I'll book through an OTA when I stay at a hotel that isn't part of a major hotel loyalty program . And, I'll book flights through an OTA if it offers a much lower price. Plus, I often book through Priceline when I use AutoSlash for cheap car rentals .
Several OTAs offer strong rewards programs. Hotels.com Rewards earns the top spot on my list, but Orbitz Rewards and Booking.com Genius also offer solid value propositions. So, if you decide to book through an OTA, it may be worth using one that provides rewards and perks.
Additional reporting by Nick Ewen.
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Is a travel agent worth it the pros and cons.
Travel experts agree there are several advantages to hiring a vacation planner.
The Pros & Cons of Using a Travel Agent
A travel agent can save you money and time. (Getty Images)
Need to pivot your trip plans but don't want to deal with the extra time, money and hassle of rebooking flights and accommodations on your own? That's just one area where a knowledgeable travel agent (also commonly known as a travel advisor) can help. Read on to discover the other benefits – as well as the downsides – of using a travel agent, so you can confidently decide whether or not a travel agent is worth it for your next trip.
The Pros of Using a Travel Agent
Travel agents can save you money – and get you other perks.
"In some cases, you'll actually get a better deal by working with a travel agent," says Jackie Steele, travel expert at MagicGuides . "This could be in the form of a cruise onboard credit (free spending money to use on the ship), access to special agency/group rates, or even just learning about a discount you qualify for but weren't aware of." The best agents will even keep an eye on new discounts as they're announced and apply them to your trip even after you've booked, he notes.
Travel agents handle all the details
Hotel room? Booked. Dinner reservations? Made. Tour tickets? Ready to go. A travel agent handles every detail of your vacation itinerary. "The traveler still gets to be involved in the fun part of dreaming up ideas and providing their travel wishes, while we take and perfect them," says Jessica Parker, founder of Trip Whisperer .
Molly McShea, owner and travel advisor at McShea Travel , points out that travel agents can also help with timing logistics. "Travel agents know how many days should be spent in each destination, which tours go together, and how many things you should do in a day," she says, adding that crafting an itinerary can be challenging if it's not something you regularly do. Additionally, travel agents can help you choose the best time to visit your preferred destination(s) based on seasonality and your budget, and sift through travel insurance policies to find the best option for your needs.
Travel agents can provide local expertise
"A travel advisor's industry connections and relationships provide added value to their clients," says Valerie Edman, a luxury travel advisor and agency owner at Cultured Travel LLC. She says when working with a travel agent, travelers gain access to a global network of connections including:
- In-destination specialists who work exclusively with travel advisors and can connect travelers with unique, off-the-beaten-path experiences they wouldn't otherwise know about
- Exclusive experiences not available to the general public
You'll avoid surprise fees
When deciding if a travel agent is worth it for you, remember this: A reputable agent can guarantee you won't encounter any surprise fees on accommodations and activities once your trip is booked.
You'll have someone to troubleshoot unexpected travel issues
A travel advisor is essentially your personal vacation concierge. "Because they've been around for so long, agents really know what to look for," says Christopher Elliott , a consumer advocate and journalist. "Travel agents are among the first to know about flight cancellations and delays , making it easy for them to rebook itineraries right away."
The Cons of Using a Travel Agent
It might not be your cheapest option.
There are some instances when it makes more sense to plan your own trip. "If you're planning a quick flight from New York City to Los Angeles, it's easy enough to book it yourself online directly or through a third-party booking site," says Elliott. "If you're planning a once-in-a-lifetime trip or bucket list honeymoon , that's when you call the experts."
You'll have less flexibility in your itinerary
The upside of working with a travel agent is having someone plan an epic vacation for you based on industry knowledge and local expertise. But this can also be a downside in the event you discover an activity you'd like to do or a restaurant you'd like to try that isn't on your pre-planned itinerary. If you alter your plans, you risk losing money; plus, the time it takes for you and your travel agent to coordinate your change of plans may not be worth the hassle.
You still have to do some research
It's important to find an agent you can trust, which means you still have to do some of the vacation planning. For this part, Parker recommends picking up the phone. "Lots of people avoid or don't pick up the phone as much anymore," she says. "That's where you get the high-touch service, tone of voice, excitement or concerns to manage." She advises to look for the following red flags:
- No fees: " Travel advisors are charging planning fees more now or increasing them, so the client knows more confidently than ever, we work for them, not the suppliers with the best commissions," Parker explains. "There are a lot of things that are non-commissionable and the advisor's time and expertise shouldn't be given away for free, either. That's the best way to show an advisor takes their business seriously."
- Limited options: If you work with someone who is inexperienced or has an incentive to book you with a certain supplier, they may not be prioritizing your best interests. "It's important to check if they are with a larger consortia, accreditations and network, typically listed on their website and signatures," says Parker. "That level of mindshare doesn't come with a lone advisor unless they have many, many years of experience."
- Slow response times: If communication is delayed, that's a sign they may be too busy to plan your trip – but again, this is something you can avoid by having the right conversations early on.
Edman suggestes starting your search with the American Society of Travel Advisors . "ASTA-verified travel advisors are committed to the highest industry standards and have verifiable industry knowledge so consumers can feel confident in working with them," she says.
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Best Travel Sites
Read our guide to research and choose the best travel site for you. Travel sites offer discounts, price guarantees and guides that help travelers book with confidence. You may find that you can get a great deal by visiting multiple sites, or you might find one that has all the options you need.
- Our recommendations are based on what reviewers say.
- 4,337,775 reviews on ConsumerAffairs are verified.
- We require contact information to ensure our reviewers are real.
- We use intelligent software that helps us maintain the integrity of reviews.
- Our moderators read all reviews to verify quality and helpfulness.
What features should you look for in a travel site?
Travel sites often offer discounts to attract more customers. Investigate these common options to make travel services affordable.
- Bundled discounts: Take advantage of bundled discounts if you need flight, car rental and hotel reservation services.
- Mobile app discounts: Using a travel site's mobile app may give you access to exclusive discounts on hotels, air travel, car rentals and other services.
- Membership discounts: Use membership discounts to save money on travel services and reservations.
- Loyalty rewards: Look for loyalty programs that will reward you when you book travel services through that website.
Many travel sites partner with airlines, hotels, rental car agencies and other companies so customers can book all the services they need in one place.
- Flights: Search flights from hundreds of domestic and international airlines.
- Accommodations: Find accommodations at hotels and resorts or even private short-term rentals.
- Rental cars: Compare rental car options to get the car you want at a reasonable price.
- Vacation packages: Vacation packages bundle several services together to make booking a trip convenient and affordable.
Guides published by travel sites can help you choose destinations and activities that will make your trip more enjoyable. Some travel guides may match your needs more than others.
- City guides: With city guides, you can get an overview of destination cities. They usually focus on urban areas like New York City, London and Paris, but some include smaller places, too.
- Hotel reviews: Use hotel reviews to learn about what other people encountered during their travels. Some reviews are written by experts, but others are written by travelers who want to share their experiences.
- Restaurant reviews: Restaurant reviews will help you choose eateries that offer good services as well as excellent foods.
- Activities and events: Reading about activities and events can help you decide when you want to visit a city and what you will do once you reach your destination.
It can be hard to commit to one website when you know how many deals are out there and how often they change. That's why many travel sites offer price guarantees.
- Price matches: Price match guarantees ensure that you will get the lowest possible price even if another company has a cheaper offer. For instance, a site may lower its price if members find cheaper options from other companies.
- Refunds: If you have already paid for your travel services, then many sites will issue refunds to match another company's price.
- Rebates: Some travel websites will give you rebates that you can use on future services.
- Payments: When you find a lower offer, some travel sites will pay you a small fee in addition to matching the competitor's price.
Convenience is one of the most important features that a travel site can offer. The specific features that you get, however, will vary among companies.
- Travel planning: Planning a trip is often easier when travel sites give you tools to review multiple offers and coordinate travel times.
- Hotel comparisons: Tools to help you compare your options will make it easier for you to choose accommodations that are right for you.
- Payments: Some sites provide travel information and offers, but you have to visit another company's website to pay for services. Others will let you make payments directly through their site.
- Meta searches: By offering meta searches, a website can show you offers from a wider range of companies. That makes it more convenient for you to compare offers to get the best possible price.
- Convenience fees: Some travel sites earn money by charging convenience fees when visitors book or pay for services online. Others collect money from service providers like airlines, hotels and rental agencies.
Many travel sites have developed mobile apps that give travelers secure access to their online accounts. Look for companies that offer these and download the apps before going on your trip.
- Planning: Mobile apps make it easy for travelers to make new plans even while they are on their trips.
- Itineraries: Using a mobile app to review your travel itinerary will help ensure that you experience everything you wanted during your trip.
- Payments: Mobile apps are often the most secure way to pay for services while traveling.
- Guides: When you have spare time, use mobile travel guides to find interesting destinations near you.
What are the different types of travel sites?
Discount travel sites.
Discount travel sites gather deals from other companies to help travelers find lower prices on flights, car rentals, hotel rooms and other travel necessities. In many cases, customers cannot make reservations through the travel site.
Booking travel sites
Booking travel sites do more than just help people find travel services online. They also let them book services directly through the websites.
Vacation package sites
Vacation package sites let customers bundle travel services so they can qualify for bigger discounts.
Travel sites FAQ
- Book your trip dates for the offseason or the middle of the week.
- Be flexible with your hotel's location. Often, a downtown hotel is more expensive than a location farther from the city center.
- When using a travel site, consider bundling your airfare, hotel and car rental to get discounts.
- Join hotel rewards programs.
- Book using special rates (e.g., AAA, AARP, senior, government)
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Author reviews for travel sites
BookIt.com is an online travel agency based in Panama City Beach, Florida. The company focuses on helping travelers find deals in the United States, Mexico and the Caribbean.
CheapOair was founded in New York City in 2005 to help travelers book flights, hotel rooms and rental cars. About 20 million people visit the website each month.
- Exclusive deals : CheapOair can offer exclusive deals because it has agreements with over 450 airlines around the world.
- Customer services : CheapOair has strong customer services and an extensive FAQ section to help users find the services they need.
- Vacation packages : CheapOair bundles flights, hotels and car rentals to help travelers save money.
- Price guarantee : The company offers a best price guarantee that will match lower prices offered by other travel sites.
- Customer care : CheapOair's 24/7 customer service won the 2014 International Service Excellence Award.
- IATAN and ASTA certified : Industry certifications tell consumers that CheapOair has met industry standards for quality and customer service.
TripAdvisor is one of the world's largest travel websites. It primarily relies on user-generated content to help travelers choose destinations and activities that interest them.
Booking.com is an Amsterdam-based company founded in 1996. Unlike most travel companies, it focuses exclusively on helping travelers reserve rooms.
Orbitz is an online travel website owned by Expedia Inc. It was founded in 2001 and acquired by Expedia in 2015.
Hotwire is a San Francisco-based company that helps travelers find discounted rates on a wide range of services, including flights, car rentals and hotel rooms.
Travelocity is a Dallas-based travel company owned by Sabre Corporation, a travel technology company that has been in business since 1960.
Hotels.com is a website dedicated to helping travelers find lodging at hotels, motels and resorts. It lists deals from over 325,000 hotels around the world.
Priceline is a Connecticut-based company that helps travelers find discounted rates offered by a wide range of travel businesses, including hotels and airlines.
OneTravel is a Pennsylvania-based travel website that was started in the mid-1990s.
- Newsletter : OneTravel uses a daily newsletter to keep its members updated on the latest deals.
- Hotels : Travelers can find discounts at over 84,000 hotels.
- International travel : OneTravel books hotels in and flights to countries all over the world.
- Business class flights : Travelers can specify that they want business class flights so they can focus on options that match their needs.
- Rewards : OneTravel members earn points that they can use to lower the prices of flights, hotel rooms and rental cars.
CheapTickets is an online travel company owned by Orbitz Worldwide Inc. Its focus is helping leisure travelers find rental cars, cruises, accommodations and airline tickets.
Founded in 1996, Expedia is one of the oldest online travel companies. It was created by a team at Microsoft.
KAYAK is a search engine that connects travelers to services offered by travel agencies all over the world. It was founded in 2004 and acquired by the Priceline Group in 2013.
Jetsetter is a members-only travel community that offers exclusive deals and insider guides to destinations all over the world. It was purchased by TripAdvisor in 2013.
trivago is a metasearch engine that helps people browse deals from over 900,000 hotels around the world.
Travelzoo has connections to more than 2,000 travel and entertainment companies to give tourists access to fun activities as well as travel services.
Airbnb is a marketplace for people to list or find accommodations around the world. People list their homes or apartment online, and people rent them for a listed rate and time. The company was founded in 2008 in San Francisco, California, and now Airbnb has users and listings in over 65,000 cities in more than 190 countries.
Information in this guide is general in nature and is intended for informational purposes only; it is not legal, health, investment or tax advice. ConsumerAffairs.com makes no representation as to the accuracy of the information provided and assumes no liability for any damages or loss arising from its use.
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Top 10 online travel agencies
Top online travel agencies.
Based on Cloudbeds’ data gathered from thousands of customer properties, we’ve seen an immense recovery in revenue generated from OTA bookings in comparison to 2020. As we approach the midpoint of 2022, hotel revenue has almost surpassed the entirety of 2021 and is predicted to outperform 2019, signaling that the demand for travel has returned. Below are the highest revenue-generating OTAs .
Top 10 highest revenue-generating OTAs worldwide
1. booking.com, 4. hostelworld, 7. hotelbeds, 8. trip.com, 9. despegar / decolar, 10. traveloka, highest revenue-generating otas by country.
Based on Cloudbeds data, we’ve highlighted the OTAs that are generating the most revenue for our customers in leading travel destinations.
Google Hotel Search is slowly climbing the ranks as one of the top-performing channels across several different countries, while Airbnb has skyrocketed in popularity regardless of country. Agoda, a major booking platform for the Asian market, leads in revenue across Thailand and the Philippines.
Top 10 Online Travel Agencies USA
- Google Hotel Search
Top 10 Online Travel Agencies Canada
Top 10 online travel agencies mexico.
- Despegar / Decolar
- Mr & Mrs Smith
Top 10 Online Travel Agencies Spain
- Booking. com
Top 10 Online Travel Agencies in Other Countries
Learn more about the top revenue-generating OTAs around the world in our Big Book of OTAs, including:
- Top 10 Online Travel Agencies Portugal
- Top 10 Online Travel Agencies UK
- Top 10 Online Travel Agencies Brazil
- Top 10 Online Travel Agencies Colombia
- Top 10 Online Travel Agencies Australia
- Top 10 Online Travel Agencies Philippines
- Top 10 Online Travel Agencies Thailand
Highest niche revenue-generating OTAs
What are niche otas.
Niche OTAs are online travel agencies catering to specific audiences and travel needs. Many niches exist today, including OTAs for skiers, campers or glampers, adventure travelers, luxury travelers, and more.
Independent hotels can maximize on the value niche OTAs offer as they are usually built to target more specific guest segments. Once you identify what guest segments make sense for your property, you can look into local partnerships to expand your offerings to provide a more tailored experience that complements your guests’ travel plans. For example, if you have a property close to the beach, you can find local surf instructors to partner with and offer lessons through your booking engine to attract surfers. When the guests check-in, you can show them where the best surf is in town to improve the guest experience.
After a guest’s first trip is booked through a niche OTA, the guest will likely forego OTAs for their next trip in favor of booking directly on the hotel website. Niche OTAs are an essential part of any property’s online distribution strategy as they build loyalty and encourage direct bookings.
In the niche OTA market, many new channels have emerged over the past few years, especially surf & sport OTAs and luxury OTAs.
Highest niche revenue-generating OTAs | Surf & Sports
Surf tourism has been popularized across 93 countries , and prior to the pandemic, a population of 35 million surfers spent more than $32 billion USD annually surfing abroad. Travelers are looking for more outdoor experiences, and seek out properties that cater to their needs. Today, the top-revenue generating Surf & Sport OTAs include:
Thermal: offers a handpicked collection of the best surf trips in the world, with a focus on amazing guides who create one-of-a-kind, authentic experiences.
Good Story: has an inventory of surf hotels and internationally recognized surf schools and camps for both novice and experienced surfers.
Surf Holidays: provides unique places to stay with quality local surf instruction to deliver the surf holiday of a lifetime on some of the best breaks in the world.
Luex Surf & Snow Travel: connects travelers with operators/suppliers of once-in-a-lifetime sports travel experiences and products.
KiteSurfHolidays.com: specializes in kitesurfing holidays, including accommodations and kitesurfing schools.
Highest niche revenue-generating OTAs | Luxury
The global luxury travel ecosystem is valued at $1.54 trillion USD , with $1.4 trillion being spent on lodging and airfare. During the pandemic, households around the world amassed an extra $5.4 trillion in savings as consumers curtailed spending on recreation, travel, dining, and entertainment. This excess in savings and increased desire for travel has led to consumers booking more luxury vacations as most of the world’s travel restrictions have been lifted. Expedia found that 40% of travelers are more willing than ever to splurge on future travels, and 32% plan to visit a bucket-list destination. The following OTAs cater to travelers looking for luxury accommodations:
Mr & Mrs Smith: includes a collection of carefully curated hotels that are first anonymously evaluated and visited by staff. This exclusive OTA works on an invitation-only basis.
Prestigia: is made up of hand-selected quality and unique hotels from all over the world. This OTA offers the best price guarantees, promotions, and exclusive perks.
icastelli.net: luxurious, historical, and unique high-level hotels are the property types found on this OTA. Collections include exclusive boutique hotels, golf hotels, spa hotels, and more.
i-escape: provides unforgettable travel experiences, including eco-retreats, safari lodges, and boutique hotels. Also included is an award-winning booking system with a direct dialogue between guests and property and free advice from travel consultants.
Tablet Hotels: the official hotel selection of the MICHELIN Guide. This OTA showcases hotels that provide meaningful experiences to guests, regardless of budget.
Spotlight | LGBTQIA+ OTAS
The global LGBTQIA+ market is valued at over $200 billion USD annually . While many countries have become increasingly welcoming to the queer community, discrimination is still prevalent today. OTAs like ebab and misterb&b have emerged to offer safe and friendly accommodations to the LGBTQIA+ community.
Most popular channel connections by property type
Our data shows that while the top global OTAs dominate across almost all property types, there are certain channels that emerge in popularity across specific property types.
Channels such as Hostelworld have traditionally been popular for searching for hostels, while channels such as Vrbo and Airbnb have traditionally catered to vacation rentals. However, we’ve seen that our hotel customers are increasingly adopting Airbnb as part of their channel mix. Airbnb welcomes hotels that have a unique, independent environment and style.
Download our Big Book of OTAs to see the list of the five most popular channel connections by property type, including:
- Most popular channel connections for Hotels & Boutiques
- Most popular channel connections for Hostels
- Most popular channel connections for Vacation Rentals
- Most popular channel connections for Bed & Breakfasts
The Big Book of OTAs
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- Top performing OTAs in your region
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The Pros and Cons of Booking Through Online Travel Agencies
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You’re likely already familiar with online travel agencies, even if you don’t travel often. These companies — such as Priceline , Expedia and Orbitz — act as intermediaries between you and a travel provider.
Booking your travel through an OTA can be a good idea in some circumstances, but you’ll want to be wary of its pitfalls. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of online travel agencies, so you’ll know what to use to book your next vacation.
Pros of booking through online travel agencies
There are certainly advantages booking through online travel agencies, though you’ll find different experiences whether you’re using public OTAs — such as Kayak — or private ones like those offered by your card issuer, such as the Chase Ultimate Rewards® travel portal .
✅ It may be cheaper
When searching for flights online, you may see different prices for the same routes that vary across websites. Although it may be a result of fare type — for example, some search results may not clarify that a fare is basic economy rather than main cabin or economy — other times, the difference comes down to competition for your business.
Online travel services will often offer slightly lower prices on flights in an effort to entice you as a customer. This is true for both hotels and airlines.
» Learn more: Best credit cards for online travel-booking websites
✅ It can earn you more rewards
Have you ever heard of shopping portals ? By logging into a shopping portal, you can earn rewards for purchases made with many online merchants. Some hotel chains, such as Hilton , Marriott and IHG , can be accessed through shopping portals while still booking directly on the hotel website. In this way, you can earn rewards with the hotel directly as well as with the shopping portal.
The same isn’t true for shopping portals and most airline sites. However, many public online travel agencies are accessible through shopping portals, which can then earn you rewards for airfare bookings. By opting to book in this way, you’ll be able to earn points or cash-back rewards through the shopping portal that you’d otherwise miss.
Some card issuers will also reward you heavily when using their online travel services. Clear examples of this can be seen with Capital One and Chase. With the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card , for example, you’ll get 10 miles per dollar spent on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel .
The Chase Sapphire Reserve® is similar. With this card, you can get 10 Ultimate Rewards® points per dollar spent on hotels and rental cars on the Chase travel portal.
While these numbers are high, it’s important to remember that there are trade-offs when booking through an OTA rather than directly with a hotel or airline. We’ll get into that a little later.
Online travel agencies offered by your card issuer may not feature the same prices as booking directly; you’ll want to compare these before committing to a purchase.
Some card issuers will go so far as to give your points more value when redeeming through their online travel agencies.
This is true with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card . When redeeming points on the Chase travel portal, you’ll get 1.25 cents in value per point rather than 1 cent elsewhere.
» Learn more: How much are your airline miles and hotel points worth this year?
Cons of booking through online travel agencies
There are several downsides when it comes to using online travel services for booking travel. It mainly comes down to the fact that travel providers prefer that you book directly with them — and offer more perks to woo your business.
❌ It can be harder to change a booking
Ever needed to change a flight after it's booked? No matter the reason, attempting to alter or otherwise cancel a flight can be a hassle — especially if you’ve booked through a third party.
Generally speaking, rather than offering you direct assistance, both hotels and airlines will recommend you contact the online travel agency you’ve booked with in order to make any changes.
While you may be able to make changes or get refunds with the travel agency, airlines and hotels can — and will — offer much more flexibility when you’ve booked with them directly. You may also be subject to additional fees charged by the online travel agency, which can erase any savings you’ve received.
❌ You may not receive elite benefits
This is the real kicker for anyone wanting elite status. Although airlines will almost always recognize your elite status and allow you to earn miles even for bookings made through an online travel agency, hotels and rental car companies will not.
This is especially important for hotel chains. Earning elite status with hotels generally relies on elite night credits. Although these can be earned in a variety of ways — including having complimentary status by holding certain credit cards — the main method of acquiring elite night credits is by spending nights in hotels. Rooms booked through an online travel agency do not count toward elite status as elite night credits.
Additionally, you will not receive any of the benefits of your existing elite status if your booking is through a third party. This can mean the loss of perks such as room upgrades, complimentary breakfast and even free Wi-Fi.
» Learn more: The best airline and hotel rewards loyalty programs this year
❌ It may be more expensive
Did you know that many hotel chains have best price guarantees? Hyatt, Hilton, Marriott and IHG all have a guarantee that’ll give you either points or a discount if you find a better rate elsewhere.
These guarantees are generous; Hilton, for example, will match the rate and then discount it by a further 25%.
Although you’ll need to file claims for these guarantees and they face limitations — such as a 24-hour window from when you made the booking — you can save a lot of money on your stay if your request is approved.
Online travel agencies can be hit or miss
There are two sides to every coin and this is no different, as there are several benefits and limitations of online travel services. Depending on your needs and loyalty program status, you’ll want to choose whether to book directly with a travel provider or rely on OTAs to do the job for you.
Booking travel through credit card portals from issuers like Chase and Capital One can earn you big rewards. But if you anticipate altering your travel plans or aim to earn elite status instead, booking directly is the way to go.
How to maximize your rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2023 , including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card
on Chase's website
1x-5x Enjoy benefits such as a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining and 2x on all other travel purchases, plus more.
60,000 Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
1.5%-5% Enjoy 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, our premier rewards program that lets you redeem rewards for cash back, travel, gift cards and more; and 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.
Matched Cash Back Unlimited Matched Cash Back. Chase will automatically match all the cash back you earned at the end of your first year! There is no limit to how much cash back you can earn.
on Capital One's website
2x-5x Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day. Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options.
75,000 Enjoy a one-time bonus of 75,000 miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel.
- Website Planet
6 Best Website Builders for Travel Agencies (4 Are Free) in 2023
Short on Time? These Are the Best Website Builders for Travel Agencies in 2023
- Wix – Great selection of templates for travel websites, plus features and tools to match.
- SITE123 – Easiest builder to get a functional travel agency website online.
- Squarespace – Stunning templates with visual impact and excellent marketing tools.
See 3 More Great Options | Comparison Table
- What We Look For in the Best Website Builders for Travel Agencies
- User-friendly design. All the website builders on this list are intuitive and easy to use. You won’t need technical skills to build a website that will draw visitors in – and once your site is live, it’s just as easy to update it with your latest travel destinations, deals, discounts, and blog posts.
- Attractive, mobile-responsive templates. A poorly designed template makes for an unappealing travel site. Equally important are designs that are easy to navigate on all devices, including phone, tablet, and desktop.
- Travel booking features. All the builders on this list offer booking systems that allow clients to check trip availability, reserve, and even pay online if you’ve added e-commerce functionality.
- Must-have marketing tools. Every travel agency needs a website builder that supports their marketing strategy. These builders offer email marketing, newsletters, blogs, and other tools to help you promote your services and attract clients.
- 1. Wix: Wide Range of Travel-Themed Templates and Tons of Useful Features
Save up to 33 % on your Wix plan!
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- Marketing and promotions. Wix gives you tools to craft professional email campaigns, design newsletters, offer discounts and coupons, and create social media ads and videos. Customizable templates can help streamline your marketing efforts.
- Comprehensive booking system. Wix Bookings makes it easy for guests to book travel services and securely pay online. You’ll also get tools to manage your schedule, calendar, staff, and clients.
- AI-powered website design. To make it even easier to build your site, you can try the Wix ADI builder. It takes just a few minutes to create a personalized website complete with image galleries, text, contact forms, and other valuable content.
- Suite of business tools. Wix Ascend provides financial, workflow automation, communication, and task management tools that can help you manage and grow your travel agency business. Start for free, then upgrade if you need more advanced features.
- 2. SITE123: Easiest Builder to Get a Professional Travel Site Online Fast
Get 40 % off SITE123 annual plan
- Multilingual websites. SITE123 will automatically translate your website into more than one language, allowing visitors to view trip packages and itineraries in their preferred language.
- Custom forms. You can design customized contact and booking forms to gather information specific to each client’s travel inquiry or trip reservation.
- Build brand awareness. Powerful free tools include a digital business card maker, logo designer, and favicon design tool.
- Landing page builder. This new feature helps you design a lead-generating landing page that matches your agency’s brand. Analytics tools allow you to monitor the performance of your landing page, including its conversion rate.
- 3. Squarespace: Best Templates for Visually Compelling Travel Agency Websites
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- Premium marketing tools. Squarespace’s marketing tools allow you to design and send branded email marketing campaigns, create engaging videos, manage mailing lists, and track performance – all from your dashboard.
- Custom template design. Squarespace Blueprint will help you create a custom template design that’s uniquely suited to your travel agency’s goals and vision.
- Third-party integrations. Not only does Squarespace offer robust built-in tools, but you can also integrate a number of apps you may already be using for accounting, customer relationship management (CRM), analytics, and more.
- Excellent social features . Connecting and sharing content across multiple social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok, is easy. Plus, the Unfold mobile app has templates you can use to create eye-catching social content that will amplify your site’s reach.
- 4. Webador: Straightforward Builder for a Simple Travel Site
- Multimedia content. Webador allows you to integrate videos from YouTube and Vimeo to give visitors a first-hand look at tours and travel destinations.
- Social media widgets. If you’re growing a social media following, you can display feeds from platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.
- Third-party tools. While Webador doesn’t have an app store, you can use embeds to add features like live chat, follow-up surveys for travelers, marketing campaigns, and countdown timers and clocks for limited time promotions.
- Interactive maps . If you offer bespoke tours, you can guide visitors by embedding maps with highlights to notable locations, tours, or landmarks .
- 5. IONOS: Affordable Option for Smaller Travel Agencies
- Handy SEO tools. The free website checker analyzes your site’s SEO performance and offers tips to improve visibility and boost traffic. For more advanced features like help with sponsored advertising, you can upgrade to a ranking Coach plan.
- Dedicated support representative. You’ll receive personalized support from a dedicated consultant who will answer your questions, discuss your site’s performance, and provide strategies for success.
- AI-powered text generation. This handy tool will generate text for headings, trip descriptions, and recommended destinations, saving you time and taking the work out of building your site.
- 6. WordPress.com: Powerful Customization and Functionality for Tourism Websites
- Media integration. WordPress.com allows you to create image galleries, embed videos from platforms like YouTube, and use other media to showcase tours or travel destinations you offer and inspire potential travelers.
- Blogging capabilities. You can share travel stories, tips, and insights, which can help attract and engage prospective clients. Interested travelers can sign up for exclusive paid content or subscribe to your blog’s RSS feed to get the latest travel news.
- Plugins. No website builder can compete with the variety of plugins WordPress provides to improve your site’s features and functionality – over 50,000 at the latest count. Some of the top plugins available aid marketing strategies and assist with SEO.
- Easy design with Patterns . WordPress Patterns are pre-designed blocks and layouts that allow you to quickly customize complex design elements, streamlining your website creation process.
- Choose the Right Website Builder for Your Travel Agency
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- KAYAK for Business NEW
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Find more information about Travel Agent Services on GSA eLibrary - SIN 561510 Listing of Approved Contractors .
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PER DIEM LOOK-UP
1 choose a location.
Error, The Per Diem API is not responding. Please try again later.
No results could be found for the location you've entered.
Rates for Alaska, Hawaii, U.S. Territories and Possessions are set by the Department of Defense .
Rates for foreign countries are set by the State Department .
2 Choose a date
Rates are available between 10/1/2021 and 09/30/2024.
The End Date of your trip can not occur before the Start Date.
Traveler reimbursement is based on the location of the work activities and not the accommodations, unless lodging is not available at the work activity, then the agency may authorize the rate where lodging is obtained.
Unless otherwise specified, the per diem locality is defined as "all locations within, or entirely surrounded by, the corporate limits of the key city, including independent entities located within those boundaries."
Per diem localities with county definitions shall include "all locations within, or entirely surrounded by, the corporate limits of the key city as well as the boundaries of the listed counties, including independent entities located within the boundaries of the key city and the listed counties (unless otherwise listed separately)."
When a military installation or Government - related facility(whether or not specifically named) is located partially within more than one city or county boundary, the applicable per diem rate for the entire installation or facility is the higher of the rates which apply to the cities and / or counties, even though part(s) of such activities may be located outside the defined per diem locality.
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The 10 Best Group Travel Tour Companies for 2023
Caroline Morse Teel
Caroline Morse Teel is the Managing Editor for SmarterTravel Media. Follow her adventures around the world on Instagram @TravelWithCaroline.
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For those truly epic, once-in-a-lifetime destinations, you want to leave your itinerary to the experts. Whether your dream is to see the Big Five on an African Safari, trek tall mountains, explore European cities, or something even wilder, a group tour is the easiest way to do it.
However, picking the wrong group tour company is the quickest way to ruin your trip. Make sure you choose a tour company that aligns with your goals and travel styles. Do you want an intimate group tour or do you prefer to make lots of new friends in a big group? Does the price line up with what you like (luxury vs. budget)? Is the itinerary going to all the places you want to see?
We’ve done the research and found the very best group travel tour companies for 2023 for every type of traveler.
Best Overall Group Travel: Exodus Travels
With trips on every continent, Exodus Travels covers anywhere on this planet that you could possibly want to go, from popular destinations like the Amalfi Coast to well off-the-beaten path adventures like Tajikistan. This award-winning group travel company boasts thousands of repeat customers who sign up for trips year after year (97% of past participants would recommend Exodus Travels to a friend).
These small group tours operate with only around 12-16 people, and always feature experienced local leaders who can give you a unique insight into your destination. Exodus Travels caters to any type of travel style, including trips broken down by type of activity (think walking, cycling, multi-adventure, winter, or cultural) as well as type of traveler (family, age group, etc.). There are curated collections (coastal, “away from it all”, European wilderness, and trips of a lifetime) to inspire you, as well as self-guided options for when you want all the benefits of a group tour planner without the actual group. Looking for that special safari? Exodus Travels just partners with the African Wildlife Foundation to create carefully curated luxury adventures that go above and beyond the standard safari.
Exodus Travels tours work for almost any budget, with options that range from affordable to premium.
Top Trip: Explore under-the-radar Europe by foot on Exodus Travels’ Lakes & Mountains of Slovenia walking tour .
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Best Adventure Group Travel: World Expeditions
World Expeditions has been taking adventurous travelers to remote locations all over the world ever since its first group trek through Nepal in 1975. Today, World Expeditions offers active itineraries on every continent. Intrepid travelers can opt for trips themed around mountaineering, rafting, cycling, hiking, and more.
World Expeditions aims to leave communities and places where they operate tours better than they found them. Trips are created using the company’s Thoughtful Travel Charter as a guideline, which emphasizes respect for the environment, sustainability, having a positive impact on local communities, protecting wildlife, and more.
World Expeditions’ trips are capped at just 16 people to provide a good experience for participants, and there are no single supplements for solo travelers willing to share a room with someone of the same gender.
Top Trip: Summit Africa’s tallest mountain on a fully-supported trek up Kilimanjaro on World Expeditions’ eight day trip up the beautiful Lemosho Route .
Best Budget Group Travel: G Adventures
For travelers on a budget, G Adventures offers cheap group tours that make dream destinations accessible to nearly anyone. (Think: sailing the Galapagos for just $1,124 , criss-crossing India’s Golden Triangle for $559 , or spending 8 days in Bali for less than $800.)
G Adventures is one of the best tour companies for solo travelers as well, as most trips don’t have a single-supplement. You can choose to share a room with another G Adventures solo traveler, or pay extra to have your own space.
G Adventures keeps costs down by opting for cheaper hotels and local meals, and making certain activities optional (for an additional cost). Pick your travel style—options range from “basic” to more luxe tours run in partnership with National Geographic. Family tours, local living tours (featuring homestays), and wellness-focused tours are also available.
Top Trip: G Adventures’ China Express trip is a great way to see the highlights of China if you’re short on both time and budget.
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Best Educational Group Tours: EF Go Ahead Tours
When you really want to learn about a destination, consider a group trip with EF Go Ahead Tours . EF is the world’s largest private education company, and the Go Ahead Tours arm capitalizes on the company’s relationships with local educators, historians, and tour guides to create group trips that take you deep into a destination.
These small group tours generally cap at 38 travelers, and feature unique educational experiences. For a bucket list trip, EF Go Ahead Tour’s special event tours are particularly enticing, as they offer behind-the-scenes access to tough-to-plan trips like Oktoberfest in Munich or Cherry Blossom season in Japan.
Intimidated by solo travel? EF Go Ahead Tours is a great option for solo travelers, since it offers designated trips for solo travelers , where everyone is traveling alone, making it less intimidating.
Top Trip: Bring the tastes of Italy home with you on EF Go Ahead Tours’ Food & Wine: Piedmont & Tuscany tour (operated in partnership with America’s Test Kitchen), where you’ll learn how to make local dishes.
Best Responsible Group Travel: Intrepid Travel
Looking for a responsible group travel operator that focuses on bettering the communities and destinations they visit? Intrepid Travel is the world’s largest travel B Corporation, a certification for companies doing good.
Intrepid Travel’s tours focus on sustainability, diversity, inclusion, and sustaining communities. The company has its own charity, The Intrepid Foundation , which has donated over 7 million dollars to over 130 community organizations.
Intrepid Travel’s small group tours attract a wide range of travelers, but they are especially great for younger travelers, as they have a large number of trips designed for people aged 18-29 . (Other trips, including family-focused trips, are geared toward any age.)
Top Trip: Experience unforgettable wildlife encounters on Intrepid Travel’s Premium Uganda & Rwanda trip which includes time with the mountain gorillas of Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.
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Best Private Group Travel: Kensington Tours
Whether your group consists of just two people or involves taking the entire extended family, Kensington Tours will take all the hassle of planning out of the equation. This private group operator creates personalized trips and itineraries tailored to your preferences, while their experts handle all the logistics and bookings.
Plans are entirely flexible, and can even be changed while on the trip on a whim. Need some inspiration? Browse Kensington Tours’ travel ideas , to get some ideas for your next adventure.
Top Trip: Sail around the stunning shores of Croatia and the Dalmation Islands on a private luxury catamaran on Kensington Tours’ fully customizable tour .
Best Polar Group Travel: Chimu Adventures
Whether you’re headed north to the Artic or south to Antarctica, Chimu Adventures has the perfect polar group trip for you. Chimu Adventures has some of the most variety for polar trips, with options to fly, cruise, or a combination of both to get to your destination.
For an ultra-unique Antarctica trip, Chimu Adventures offers cruises departing from Australia or New Zealand (most Antarctica trips depart from Argentina). Can’t stay long? Book one of Chimu Adventures’ scenic flights to Antarctica , which fly as far as the south pole in one spectacular 16-hour day.
Chimu Adventures is one of the cheapest group trips to Antarctica, with rates starting under $5,000.
Top Trip: If you’re pressed for time (or simply don’t have the stomach for the Drake Passage), Chimu Adventures’ Antarctica Fly Cruise will get you to the ends of the earth quickly and smoothly.
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Best Group Tours for Solo Travelers: For the Love of Travel
Group tours can be a great way to meet new people, but they can sometimes skew on the older age range. If you’re between 25-39 and a solo traveler looking to meet new people, you’ll love For the Love of Travel . All participants on the trips are between 25-39, and according to the company, 80 percent are solo travelers—so you’ll make friends fast. Hoping to meet someone who will be more than just a friend on your next trip? Trips include a balanced number of “gal and guy spots” to ensure an even balance of genders within groups (and of course, non-binary genders are always welcome).
For the Love of Travel offers weeklong (or longer) international trips as well as shorter weekender trips to nearby destinations like Mexico or Denver—perfect for people without a lot of vacation time.
Top Trip: Sleep in a glass igloo under the Northern Lights, go sledding with huskies, and warm up in traditional saunas on For the Love of Travel’s Lapland tour , already booking dates for 2024.
Best Biking Tours Group Travel: DuVine Cycling
Biking through the rolling hills of Italy or across the mountain roads of Chile sounds like a dream, but the logistics seem daunting (especially if you don’t want to haul all your own stuff from point-to-point). Enter: DuVine Cycling , a luxury small group tour company that specializes in bike trips.
With trips across Europe, Latin America, Africa, Asia, and the United States, DuVine Cycling is a cyclist’s dream. Choose from all-biking trips or mix things up with a cycle and sail bike tour or a multi-sport adventure —no matter what, everything is included, from luxury boutique accommodations to top-quality name brand bikes.
Top Trip: DuVine’s Holland Bike Tour promises “tulips, windmills, beer, and cheese”—what more could you need?
Best Luxury Group Travel: Abercrombie & Kent
Abercrombie & Kent has been delighting discerning travelers since 1962. Today, they take travelers on unforgettable adventures across over 100 different countries and all seven continents. Although Abercrombie & Kent’s trips are pricey, they encompass once-in-a-lifetime experiences like private jet tours around the world or luxury chartered cruises .
There are trips designed for solo travelers and families , and the small group journeys max out at around 14-18 guests.
Top Trip: Swim with whale sharks in the Philippines, feed proboscis monkeys in Malaysia, and photograph wild tigers in India on Abercrombie & Kent’s Wildlife Safari: Around the World by Private Jet trip , already booking dates into 2024.
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For independent explorers who don’t want to miss out on these amazing destinations, book your hotel stay for a great rate with SmarterTravel Hotels .
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