Your Guide to Successful
Vacation Rental Management

How do OTAs work? - Vacation Rental Guide

OTA is the acronym for Online Travel Agency which by definition means a website that sells travel-related products including but not limited to accommodation, car rentals, airline tickets, etc.  

In this article, we focus on the accommodation side of OTAs that specialize in renting temporary accommodation to travelers. Some of the most talked-about OTAs in the short-term rental category are: 

How do OTAs work? 

In basic terms an OTA allows vendors such as property owners and managers to list their products and services on their platforms such as websites and mobile applications at no cost at all. They make money via commissions when the product or service is purchased through their platforms. These commissions usually vary from 3% to 25%

How to list your rental on an OTA?

Each OTA has its own guidelines and is designed to make the sign-up process as easy as possible. The basic process involves: 

  • Creating a user account for yourself 

  • Coming up with a title for your property 

  • Writing a description about your property 

  • Posting photographs 

  • Checking off from a list of amenities 

  • Setting a per night price  

Note: the processes mentioned above do not follow any order, and while these sub-processes are part of most sign-up processes some may require you to include other details and omit some of those mentioned above.

How does the booking process work?

From the property managers perspective: 

Once the sign-up process is completed and your listing is published you can now accept bookings. If you have enabled instant bookings as you can with most OTAs guests will be able to book your property without you having to individually approve every request. 

As far as communication between guests and hosts goes, any communication before booking mostly happens via a chat box from the OTA. Once the booking is done guests might in the case of some OTAs be able to access the contact information you’ve provided and can then reach out to you personally, either via phone, email, or SMS.

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