Everyone in the hotel industry seems to be in favour of Metasearch engines.
NB: This is an article from Direct Your Bookings
Or, let’s turn this the other way around: have you ever heard someone telling you and other hoteliers that you should NOT be on Meta? Likely not, as “Metasearch Engines” seems to be the buzzword of modern times in Hospitality. But hopefully yes, someone did warn you about the pitfalls that lie hidden behind Meta.
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And so I’m going to show you a couple of very simple examples that will prove how, at least in this historical moment, it makes no sense to be on Metasearch, WHEN it makes no sense to be on Meta, and WHY Google Hotels Ads is the only exception.
Let’s dig in.
Own Your Hotel Distribution
First and foremost: are you in control of your distribution?
And look, whether you say Y or N to this question, there is only one way that puts you in the driver’ seat of your hotel distribution: COLLECT ALL BOOKING PAYMENTS.
In simple words:
- do all customers pay you, direct, upon arrival or check out, and then you pay due commissions to the OTAs? Good, good chances to be in control.
- do you let 3rd-party channels collect the payments from final customers? Good, well, no good: you are in NO control of your distribution. Plain and simple.
And so, what does it have to do with Metasearch Engines. Let’s check this out:
Typical scenario in Google Hotel Ads with the first featured results on top and a whole bunch of free booking links underneath.
The direct-booking channel is listed in the featured option, other than as a FBL, which means a click on this will essentially generate a cost.
However, it’s pretty clear that this hotel has some distribution issues. Does it make sense to be there as a featured option when other channels offer better rates?
Useless paid clicks
Someone may argue that eventually people won’t click on it and so the hotel won’t have to pay.
Point being, these are the results that come up when users use the brand name, or hotel name, in the search-field on Google.
The intention behind someone searching for a hotel name on Google can be either:
- Transactional: he has completed the planning phase and he/she is ready to finally make the hotel reservation for the selected hotel;
- Navigational: the prospect is in his/her planning mode, he might have seen the hotel on some OTAs and now thanks to the billboard effect, he wants to see the hotel website
Transactional: we pay to show up here, but our higher rates reduce the possibilities to get a click.
In other words, our estimated CTR gets slimmer and slimmer. The lower the CTR, the greater the price we’re going to pay for a click.