Metasearch and business models that rely on this feature have enjoyed increased popularity over the past couple of years. In fact, metasearch is quickly becoming one of the most important distribution channels for hotels.
What metasearch does is it collects all the data for a particular hotel from different search engines and sorts all of that information so that users can compare different hotels with each other, having tons of information about each of them. By doing this, they provide users with all the information they need in order to make the right choice when booking a room in any hotel, which basically means that the user will always get the best deal!
In addition, according to research by PhoCusWright, 54% of travelers in China, 42% in Germany, 38% in France, 36% in the US and 45% in the UK use metasearch engines in order to find the best rates when choosing a hotel.
Moreover, there are a number of benefits that metasearch engines can bring to hotels. Let's check them out right now.
Benefits of Metasearch for Hotels
Prior to metasearch engines, hotels mainly relied on online travel agencies (OTA) for their reach and visibility on the internet. The reason was that these guys had more power online and higher visibility, and basically left hotels no other choice, but to work with them. However, due to the hefty commission fees that OTAs charge, hotels need to find better ways to advertise online.
With the help of metasearch engines, hotels can directly compete with OTAs and get on the frontline. It's a great chance to increase direct bookings on your hotel website and decrease costs by paying less to OTAs. Moreover, when it comes to pricing, OTAs cannot charge less than the hotel itself.
Reduce the costs and increase profit
Since metasearch engines earn their revenue from ads, they welcome with open arms all hotels that want to get into their search base. This means that you will not only save a lot of cash by not paying commissions to OTAs, but by going directly to the front line and moving one step up in the supply chain, you can secure higher profit margins in the long run and “own” the customer.
A new marketing tool
Probably the most important thing for any hotel is to get their offer seen online, next to all other competitors. Although there is a wide spectrum of tools available, many of them are heavily occupied by gigantic players: They have better websites, better SEO optimization, bid higher on ads and make it almost impossible to reach a prospect.
By using metasearch, hotels get the chance to compete directly with those players on the market. Metasearch helps display all the information that is available on the internet about your hotel, thus increasing visibility and boosting your chances to increase direct bookings on your hotel website.
Challenges Hotels face with metasearch
It relies heavily on pricing
One of the biggest issues when it comes to metasearch engines is their nature of comparing everything according to the price. What this means is that, in the majority of cases, the cheaper offer gets a higher position. While this can be good, if you want to be positioned as a low-cost accommodation provider, there are cases where this can work against you.
For instance, let’s say you have a more traditional hotel with an exclusive service and relatively higher price. It will be rather difficult to position yourself in such a way, due to price comparisons.
Ensuring real-time pricing and availability feeds
Implementing all the SEO techniques can be demanding and requires people with different sets of skills in order to make it happen. Since real-time pricing and availability feeds are your most important tools when it comes to metasearch, you want to make sure they are constantly updated.
One choice could be hiring an external agency to keep your SEO up to scratch, which is the most affordable way. However, if you manage to find a dedicated person with the right set of skills who can manage this process, it could benefit you greatly.
Competition goes on even in metasearch
Even though metasearch focuses on gathering data from different sources to display the best choices at the top, competition is still very even on metasearch. While there is a possibility that big players will find a way to buy themselves to the top of the results in the future, it's not happening anytime soon.
Implementing metasearch isn't the easiest task for a hotel and requires a lot of effort and time (mainly SEO purposes) in order to make it work. However, if you are able to invest in SEO, (or already have pretty good SEO) metasearch can become a real goldmine for your hotel. Have you tried to get into one of the metasearch engines before? Share your experiences in the comments!