Look at the quick rise of rent-your-home-to-tourists powerhouse AirBnB, for instance, a provider that's usually in the conversation when travelers need accommodation. As recently as 10 years ago, AirBnB didn't exist. At the same time, smaller players are coming up with fresh new ways to offer middleman services more effectively than the big guys. Little-site-that-could TripAdvisor, once a portal that natively featured only reviews of and basic information about lodgings, has rolled out an instant booking service that allows users to book rooms directly on its site. In the plane-tickets sphere, Google, for one, has ramped up its efforts to sell bookings on flights. Its Google Flights site is a slick and easy-to-use tool that produces quick results that can be quickly modified with a range of criteria. The prices it spits out are often very competitive with those of its rivals. On top of that, travel service providers have gotten much better at funneling bookings to their own sites. After all, what respectable company wants to sacrifice potential revenue on commissions to middlemen? All this is why the two big OTAs have both been active acquirers lately. They simply want and need to keep up. Get the full story at The Motley Fool