In a world flooded with arguably useless acronyms and abbreviations, such as BOGSAT (“bunch of guys sitting around talking”) or ICBINB (“I can’t believe it’s not butter”), we’re excited to share one that is worth learning about because of how it can positively impact your business: OTA. This abbreviation may sound familiar, but it’s time to learn the full breadth of opportunities OTAs can provide for outdoor hospitality owners and operators. Now LLAAOTA—let’s learn all about online travel agencies!

What Is an OTA?

An online travel agency (OTA) is an internet-hosted marketplace where customers can find, explore, and purchase travel-related services. Traditionally, OTAs such as KAYAK and were born from and have dominated the vacationing industries (e.g., hotels, rental cars, excursions). Perhaps most commonly, Airbnb has become synonymous with and shorthand in conversation for OTA. 

Today, however, OTAs are permeating just about every industry one can imagine, including finding rentable swimming pools. Camping is no exception. As a result, there is immense value in featuring your bookable camping inventory on OTAs, especially those designed exclusively for camping.

On Campspot’s camping-centric OTA, 92% of customers booked at a property they had never previously visited.

Discover the Value of OTAs

Access to New Campers

The biggest value an OTA provides is access. There were 62% more U.S. RV owners in 2021 than there were in 2001, with growth trends accelerating still. Undoubtedly, hundreds if not thousands of new campers would love to stay at your property, but oftentimes they aren’t aware of your offerings due to living out of state, being new to the area, or being new to camping. 

Listing your property on an OTA allows you to effortlessly make connections with prospective customers who can learn more about your campground and later book their trips. In fact, on Campspot’s camping-centric OTA, 92% of customers booked at a property they had never stayed at before. 

If this seems intuitive to you, that’s because it should! An OTA isn’t providing value if it’s only attracting your repeat customers.

Fingertip access is also a value-driver for OTAs that have a mobile application, such as Campspot, because mobile phones account for 55% of web traffic over laptops, tablets, and desktop computers. Furthermore, “46% of travelers with smartphones say they make their decision on mobile, but then book on another device,” according to Phocus Wire. Even if a camper delays booking, your business’ presence on an OTA application means instantaneous vacation inspiration that generates lasting brand recognition. Knowing that 70% of travelers have turned to an online travel agency before for inspiration, don’t you want to be their next source of inspiration?

Low-Maintenance Income Stream

The second main area of value an OTA provides is a new, low-maintenance revenue stream. The revenue is low-maintenance due to all of the ways an OTA goes to work for you behind the scenes. Through an OTA’s marketing dollars, your individual business or suite of resorts receives amplified advertising attention across the digital platforms where your customers are spending most of their time: Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram, to name a few. 

An OTA can also drive earned media coverage through top publications such as Travel+Leisure, The New York Times, Condé Nast Traveler, The Washington Post, and Bloomberg—all examples of where Campspot campgrounds have been featured. Your bottom line benefits from the fact that those dollars aren’t coming out of your own marketing budget.

While there is usually a 10 to 15% commission on reservations originating from an OTA, there is no cost to acquire them, unlike a traditional pay-per-click marketing channel that can have higher costs of entry and acquisition.

Not only does an OTA offer a far superior and efficient return, but on top of that, Campspot has found that 30% of customers who discover a campground on leave the site and then book directly with the campground—bypassing the commission fee altogether. As mentioned above, an OTA should integrate easily into your existing marketing strategy without interfering with what’s already working well for your business.

Incorporating OTAs Into Your Marketing Strategy

Firstly, you should not rely on any single marketing channel to drive the majority of your business. While OTAs increase brand exposure for campgrounds, they are just one piece of the marketing pie. With this in mind, let’s explore how to incorporate OTA exposure into your broader marketing strategy.

Balance Traffic Sources and Volume

It’s important to strike the right balance of traffic you generate from different OTAs if you list inventory on more than one. You actually don’t want an OTA to drive too much of your overall online traffic. Roughly speaking, up to 20% of your marketing traffic should come from all OTAs on which you list your property, and no more than about 10% of traffic should come from a single OTA. For example, has enough volume to represent 5 to 7% of your campground’s online bookings. This ratio is both well-balanced and expands your overall customer base by sourcing from new campers. 

If you’re seeking to broaden your target audience even more or build into a new sub-industry, such as by adding glamping accommodations to your park, consider listing on multiple OTAs to reach these goals. As mentioned, the key is to let OTA marketing dollars go to work for you in order to later capitalize on the right traffic they generate.

Choose Relevant Platforms

Relevancy is extremely important when assessing the worthwhileness of listing your property on an OTA. One of our previous marketing articles cautioned against spreading your social media presence too thin because trying to be everywhere online without having the time or resources to maintain such a pace can backfire. The same goes for choosing the right OTA. You should be advertising on OTAs that closely match your capacity, industry, and business goals. 

While certain camping or glamping brands will find value in listing their inventory on an OTA built firstly for the hotel industry, listing through a predominantly camping-based OTA is an equally wise avenue for two reasons. One, a camping-based OTA’s backend and booking process better align with the structure of most campgrounds, such as sites and RV amperage instead of rooms and bed sizes. It’s even better if an OTA delineates between different site types and their unique rules—paved RV sites versus lakeside tent sites versus rustic cabins. Second, a camping OTA is specifically branded and constructed to target niche camper segments in the same way you either do or aspire to do as a marketer.

In summary, compare both an OTA’s volume of inventory and the relevant traffic it can drive when choosing which OTAs are right for your park. Always remember to integrate an OTA into your marketing strategy without letting it overtake your strategy. Lastly, keep relevancy to your overall marketing goals in mind at all times.

Key Expectations for Strong OTAs

Expectations for an effective OTA fall into five main categories: user experience, growth, partnership, content, and control. 

User Experience

As any driver who has been forced to wait in a long DMV line without having the option to renew their license plate online knows (oh no, another acronym?!), user experience is everything. Digital user experience and what makes it good or bad is an actual science. At the same time, it’s easy to recognize an OTA that’s doing user experience right and one that’s doing it wrong

The more time and difficulty it takes for someone to click around to find the next step in their search query, the more likely one is to lose their attention…and business. The less imagery an OTA presents, the harder it is for a camper to imagine themselves vacationing at the property. And the worse a visitor’s online experience is, the more likely they are to associate this negativity with both the OTA and whatever brands they interact with while on the site. 

An OTA should display an uncluttered and attractive web interface that allows visitors to easily search, filter options, and book. You expect nothing but the best when it comes to providing for your guests, so make sure your guests’ OTA experience is also the best.


If the COVID years of camping have taught us anything, it’s that adaptation is key to business success. Any vendor or business partner that isn’t motivated to innovate and adapt with you isn’t the best choice long term. 

You should view your OTA—a partner in your success—in the same way. Those that are continually growing their bookable inventory, fine-tuning their platform, adding integration partners to enhance the user experience, and creating opportunities for you are those to not only watch, but join. 

For example, seek to work with an OTA that incorporates behavioral economics into its booking algorithm, or one that partners with leading outdoor brands to create an outdoor almanac for prospective campers (hey, that one’s us!). These few ideas suggest innovative thinking, marketing advantages for you, and value-adds for our industry at large. 

Partners, Not Competitors

You may be quick to think that more booking inventory means more competition, but remember our discussion of the right volume and proportion of traffic earlier? If it’s the right fit, each OTA should be viewed as another online opportunity where you can showcase your unique brand of camping—not viewed as the sole source of, or suck from, your business. 

That’s why a growing OTA is an encouraging sign—it really means expanded exposure for your property. Therefore, we recommend partnering with an established and expanding OTA to share in its growth opportunities without being overly reliant on any one platform.

Remember, as mentioned earlier, while there is usually a 10 to 15% commission on reservations originating from an OTA, there is no cost to acquire these customers, unlike a traditional pay-per-click marketing channel that can have higher costs of entry and acquisition.

In 2023, Inc. 5000 ranked Campspot in the top 500 fastest-growing private companies in America and honored us with a Power Partner Award. Read more.


Cash may still be king, but increasingly content is king, too. In the same way that you may engage in content marketing, your chosen OTA should also entice audiences by providing meaningful content. This helpful information should relate both to the camping experience in general and the presentation of your property. 

Consistent presentation of your park is key across all marketing channels, and your OTA should accurately match your business’s unique brand, including your photos, site type details, and amenities. Listings are not just about showcasing the inventory though; they should also reflect your backend operating rules, including minimums, maximums, add-ons, and more. 

These are necessary points of information that campers crave during booking, and you don’t want them to be lost on an online travel agency. Therefore, maintaining the integrity of your park’s brand and offering meaningful content while streamlining the end-to-end booking process is essential.


Last but certainly not least, you want to have control over your content and business, which extends to your OTA listings. If you are the driver of your campground, an OTA should be there to maintain a smooth, autonomous roadway for your success. Here are a few key ways an OTA should honor your autonomy in the relationship: 

  • You own the customer data
  • You have control over the content you share
  • You are able to showcase your unique value

Seamlessly mirroring all the ins and outs of your business rules is a crucial but sometimes lacking OTA function. This is especially important when one OTA integrates with another. You should be able to manage multiple listings across multiple platforms from within one intelligent, real-time interface. 

Furthermore, any OTA you work with should act as a supportive but not overbearing partner by helping you make pricing decisions, stay ahead of industry trends, and operate according to your best interest: all integral factors in maintaining control. 

Campspot Marketplace: A Camping OTA in Action is the largest camping-specific OTA by bookable inventory with over 290,000 active listings. 

Some OTAs will automatically create a listing for your property without consulting you and then charge you a fee to “claim” the potentially inaccurate listing. Rest assured, your listings that appear on Campspot Marketplace are a direct reflection of the Campspot software listings you craft—ensuring a fluid, synchronized, and consistently branded user experience for both campers and operators.

Camprounds listed on the marketplace get amplified reach through Campspot’s broader marketing efforts, including email marketing and social media coverage, seasonal promotions, special reports such as the Campspot Outdoor Almanac, our annual park awards, and more.

Campspot OTA Integrations

In addition to Campspot’s dedicated camping marketplace for your inventory, there are numerous integrations available with the leading online travel agencies in the hospitality industry. Read on to explore how you can easily leverage these platforms within Campspot, alongside the benefits from many other integration partners

Airbnb, Vrbo, and

These days, it’s very common to hear someone make an analogy beginning with the phrase, “It’s the Airbnb of _____.” Fortunately, Campspot offers two easy ways for your property to integrate with the private lodging giant that started it all. 

The first is a direct integration via DerbySoft, which is the technology that facilitates the connection to your inventory. This option gives the campground operator full control over managing their listings without a third-party intermediary. The second Airbnb integration option is managed by BnBerry, which is a third-party concierge service. From content updates and optimizations to guest inquiries, BnBerry conveniently manages all communication with the guest up until they arrive onsite.

In either case, our two integration options ensure that bookings made on Airbnb will automatically book in Campspot, too—keeping all of your reservations organized in one central location.

Campspot customers can list their inventory on Vrbo using BnBerry’s services. Similar to our Airbnb integration, all Vrbo bookings are automatically reserved in Campspot, so you can forget about double booking concerns. 

Through the power of DerbySoft again, Campspot customers can list their sites on all while viewing and managing them seamlessly through the Campspot interface. Beyond these traditionally well-known OTAs, parks that are listed on the Campspot Marketplace receive additional exposure through the OTA RoverPass, which also specializes in listing campgrounds and RV parks. 

OTAs Are Your Oyster

From new market exposure to brand amplification and passive revenue, there are many benefits online travel agencies can offer campground owners and operators. When considering which OTAs to partner with—as each should truly be a partnership—scrutinize their user experience, growth opportunities, content management, and your level of control. We hope “OTA” is now an abbreviation that’s worthy of both your lexicon and book of business!


Haley Dalian is a lifelong Michigander who takes advantage of recreation throughout the state’s changing seasons—from snow skiing to scuba diving in the Great Lakes. A former Campspot marketing manager, Haley holds a B.A. degree in public policy from Michigan State University and an M.S. degree in sustainability from the University of Michigan. She is passionate about environmental stewardship, exploring the outdoors, and has never met a potato she didn’t like.

This post was originally published in October 2022 and has been updated with the latest and greatest information for accuracy and comprehensiveness.