Starling Blog

OTAs VS Local Providers

What is a Custom Adventure Travel Tour?

A custom adventure travel tour is a tour that you design yourself, with the help of an experienced travel consultant. It's like having your own personal concierge to help you plan every aspect of your trip--from picking out hotels, restaurants and activities to finding the best deals on flights and transportation.

Customers can choose from a variety of different types of custom adventure travel tours:

Customized group tours

These are designed for groups who want to travel together but don't want to spend hours researching their options online or calling around trying to find the right fit for everyone in their group. Group leaders will work closely with the local operator team so they can create a customized itinerary based on each person's interests and preferences (e.g., foodies vs beach bums). Then we'll book all accommodations, flights/transfers/tours/meals etc., which means no more worrying about getting stuck with someone else's terrible idea!

Private customized trips

Wanting some alone time? No problem! We'll work closely with clients who want complete control over their vacation experience from start-to-finish by booking everything themselves through us instead of using OTAs like Expedia or Booking.

What are OTAs?

OTAs are online travel agencies. These websites allow you to search for and book tours, hotels, and flights directly through the site. While OTA websites can be a convenient option for booking tours and activities as you can book your trip from anywhere in the world with an internet connection, or have a wide range of options available at different prices so you can find the best deal for your budget, they often come with limitations.

Many OTAs provide little-to-no customer service in case something goes wrong during your trip! You may find yourself stuck somewhere without transportation or unable to check into your hotel room because they lost your reservation information (this has happened multiple times). In these instances, it's best just not to rely on them at all; instead call up the airline directly or contact whoever made your hotel reservation directly so they can help resolve any issues with ease and speediness because they don't have middlemen slowing down communication between parties involved in resolving problems like these ones do!
When it comes to travel, there are many ways to explore the world, and one of the most popular ways is through organized tours. However, there are different ways to book a tour. One option is to book a pre-packaged tour through an online travel agency (OTA), while another option is to request a custom tour from a local tour operator. While both options have their advantages, this blog will focus on the advantages of requesting a custom tour.


One of the biggest advantages of requesting a custom tour is flexibility. When booking a pre-packaged tour, travelers are limited to the set itinerary and activities included in the tour. However, with a custom tour, travelers have the freedom to create their own itinerary and choose the activities they want to do. This allows for a more personalized and unique travel experience.

Local Knowledge:

Local tour operators have an intimate knowledge of their destination and can provide insider information and recommendations that may not be available through an OTA. This can include hidden gems, local experiences, and off-the-beaten-path activities that are not included in pre-packaged tours.


Custom tours can be tailored to suit the needs and preferences of individual travelers or groups. This includes considerations such as dietary restrictions, mobility limitations, and special interests. By tailoring the tour to the needs of the traveler, the overall experience is enhanced, and travelers are more likely to have a memorable and enjoyable trip.


Custom tours often provide a more authentic travel experience. Local tour operators can provide opportunities to interact with locals, visit local markets, and experience local culture in a more immersive way. This allows travelers to gain a deeper understanding of the destination and its people.

Supporting the Local Economy:

By booking a custom tour with a local tour operator, travelers are supporting the local economy and community. Local tour operators are often small businesses that rely on tourism to survive. By supporting them, travelers are contributing to the local economy and helping to sustain the destination for future generations.

Customer Support:

If there is any problem during your trip, such as bad weather or flight delays, it is easier for you to contact the company directly than if you had booked via an OTA since they would already have all their contact information available on their website (or even in person).

While booking a tour through an OTA website may seem like a convenient option, there are several advantages to requesting a custom tour directly from a local tour operator. By doing so, you can enjoy a more personalized travel experience, gain access to local knowledge, receive better customer service, and support local businesses. So the next time you're planning a trip, consider reaching out to a local tour operator to create a custom tour that perfectly fits your needs and interests.