Metasearch has developed a lot during the last 18 months and it’s now considered to be one of the most effective ways for travelers to find the best accommodation option at the best price! Nowadays, as everyone has 24-7 Internet access, they want to get information as soon as possible. Fewer customers are now ready to navigate through different websites to find the best deal available. Now, they want to have all of the information in one central place, and that place is called metasearch.
Metasearch websites like Kayak and TripAdvisor facilitate the process of searching for accommodation options for consumers and bring them to one central place, where they can compare options based on their deals, locations, prices and so on. In this case, there is no need for consumers to visit different Online Travel Agency (OTA) websites, as everything is concentrated in one place. According to PhoCusWright, the global travel market research company, 56% of Chinese, 37% of American and 34% of British travelers make use of metasearch engines for comparing prices.
The biggest benefit for small and medium hotels is that metasearch gives them the opportunity to position themselves at the same level as OTAs and shift people to reserve directly from their own websites. If implemented correctly, as a result of the connection between metasearch engines and hotels’ websites, hotels can get more reservations at a lower cost per acquisition.
3 ways meta search can help hotels fight OTAs
1.Meta search engines improve the value proposition for customers
One cannot deny the meta search marketing’s value proposition for travelers. With information about rooms, pricing and rates presented in one place, travelers are provided with everything they might need to research and choose the best accommodation options. When choosing a hotel, travelers are concerned with four key factors which are all addressed by meta search engines: hotel location, customer reviews/feedback, hotel information, real-time availability, and pricing! For instance, Google provides information on all of these factors:
Location: Google has the best mapping service available
Customer reviews: Google shows Zagat’s reviews and as well as other feedback from review websites like TripAdvisor or Booking.com.
Hotel information: Google is all about information. Here, you will be able to find details about any hotel in the world, big or small!
Real-time availability and rate information: Google Hotel Finder offers a 360-degree hotel stay research and gives travelers the opportunity to plan, compare and finalize their reservations.
With metasearch engines available, could the OTAs business model be at risk? Let’s think for a moment. Why would any traveler want to visit an OTA website when they have the chance to get all of the required information (location, prices, rooms) from one platform like Google Hotel Finder, TripAdvisor or Kayak? There is nothing more OTAs offer to travelers, which is why metasearch is an important consideration in any hotel’s marketing strategy. Metasearch is there to help hotels gain a huge number of customers, which may be lost otherwise.
3. Metasearch is a marketing channel for hotels
There is a big misconception in the hotel industry that meta search engines are just distribution channels, which states that once the hotel is shown on metasearch platform, then its job is done, and reservations will come.
However, the reality is that metasearch is an online marketing/advertising channel that requires real-time room availability and a pricing strategy. Metasearch engines require daily spend and bid management, daily reaction to advertisers’ actions, monitoring of budget spend on a daily basis and monitoring of rate parity. With the help of metasearch, hotels have a lot more opportunities to promote themselves and grab customers’ attention.
Getting started with meta search
Now we know why metasearch is so useful for hotels, let’s present some factors that hotels should take into consideration in order to appear on meta search engines:
Connectivity: In order to appear in the list of metasearch engine results, it is necessary for hotels to have advanced distribution connectivity, that will ensure the ongoing flow of information between the metasearch websites, the hotel booking engine and as well as the hotel’s property management software (PMS).
Up to date content: Like in all search engines, here as well, content is king, and it plays a vital role in page ranking. Valuable content including photos, accurate information, videos, amenities listed on the hotel’s website will definitely help hotels to improve their page rankings. However, keep in mind that all of the crucial information, including hotel name, address, and postcode, telephone number, amenities should be up to date. For example, if there is a spa in your hotel and you do not mention it, then your hotel can be filtered out if someone searches for hotels with space available.
Rate parity/cheapest rate: Many studies have shown that people prefer to make direct reservations through a hotel’s website, however, the biggest consideration for them is the price. They tend to book, where the price is the lowest. So, it’s important for hotels to offer rate parity, which will also impact the offers positioning on the meta search results.
Reviews: One of the most important things travelers do before making reservations is checking the reviews of the hotel. Metasearch engines collect reviews from a variety of websites in order to give the guests the overall impression of the hotel.
Metasearch is a must-have tool that hotels need to use as a part of their overall marketing strategy in order to increase the number of direct reservations. Due to changes in consumer behavior and the huge amount of money being spent by meta search engines, hotels should clearly understand the importance of integration with meta search engines.
Through the direct connection between your hotel’s website and metasearch engine, your hotel will get a huge amount of traffic that may otherwise never even visit your website. Metasearch engines allow hotels to get much more control and create better experiences for their guests.