Post by Kim Theune, Associate Media Manager
The battle between online travel agencies (OTAs) and hotels is at an all-time high. OTAs, like Expedia and Priceline, generally have massive marketing budgets, allowing them to dominate the search engine results page (SERP). Additionally, research has uncovered that more than half of U.S. travelers choose OTAs when searching for hotel deals and tend to book through OTAs (43%) instead of through hotel sites (40%) (Hotelmarketing.com)
With the threat of OTAs and a larger push for hotel direct bookings, metasearch is becoming an essential digital marketing tool for hotels. Metasearch is an engine that filters through data, producing its own aggregated data. In this case, the metasearch engine would yield combined results for hotel rates and availability in one easy-to-use place, creating a greater user experience. With that being said, metasearch and OTAs have striking similarities as they both merge hotel results and generate more satisfying experiences as a ‘one stop shop’.
5 ADVANTAGES OF METASEARCH
Let’s take Google Hotel Finder as one example of a metasearch engine.
When a user searches for a hotel in Google, the metasearch results appear on all devices and on all Google sites including Search, Maps and Google+. Once the user selects the property, it takes them directly to the hotel’s website where they can complete the booking.
(1) Lower pricing: Using metasearch, hotels can list their rooms for lower than the competing OTA pricing since they don’t have to pay commission fees when using metasearch as they would if a consumer booked through an OTA. Much like Paid Search, metasearch is also on a cost-per-click (CPC) basis. By having a consumer click on the hotel’s metasearch ad instead of the OTA, the cost per booking will likely decrease in comparison to an OTA booking. The CPC is typically much lower than the OTA’s commission rate.
(2) Direct Bookings: Metasearch drives additional direct website bookings as travelers are able to book their hotel room directly on the hotel’s website instead of an OTA website. After a traveler inputs their check in/check out date, they have the option of going directly to the hotel’s website which not only drives brand awareness but also drives direct bookings.
(3) SERP Real Estate: Using metasearch, hotels can take up more ‘real estate’ on the SERP and drive additional brand awareness which is key when competing head to head with the OTAs.
(4) Real-Time Bid Management: Generally, metasearch engines offer real-time bid management and tracking so brands can adjust their advertising campaigns to meet consumer demands as well as track the effects of the campaigns to make sure advertising dollars are being spent correctly.
(5) Accessibility to reviews: Typically, consumers will choose a hotel with higher ratings. Consumers that are leveraging metasearch engines will have accessibility to reviews through Google, for example. Star ratings and reviews will populate, providing consumers with a much more seamless experience.
With increasing competition, hotels should be seeking metasearch strategies as part of their overall digital marketing plan. To learn more about implementing metasearch, contact Performics today.