Metasearch: is it right for your hotel?
While OTAs have long been a dominant source of indirect hotel bookings, metasearch sites like Kayak, Trivago, TripAdvisor, and Google have recently become much more relevant in hotel marketing and distribution channel discussions.
As you know, OTAs are indirect booking channels that own the relationships with your guests. Metasearch sites, on the other hand, are primarily not booking channels. They are advertising platforms on which hotels (and OTAs!) can market their inventory. From the price-sensitive consumer perspective, metasearch sites have the distinct perceived advantage of being a one-stop shop—it’s a way to research hotels available during their desired travel dates, read reviews and compare prices between different booking channels (including the OTAs).
However, we’ve recently seen a blurring of the lines between OTAs and metasearch sites. First, a sweeping trend of industry consolidation has led to acquisitions; like Kayak by Priceline and Trivago by Expedia. Also, much like the OTAs, TripAdvisor and Google have integrated inventory into their search results with a Book Now button, leading many to wonder whether a hybrid OTA/metasearch model is on the way.
Given this information many hoteliers are asking, do I really need to invest time and money in metasearch?
The answer is, probably yes. If your guests are using these sites to book hotel accommodations, you need to have a presence on those sites. Fortunately, there are some great benefits to investing in metasearch.
What are the benefits?
1. Reduce cost per booking
OTAs like Priceline and Expedia are now charging booking commissions as large as 30 percent, taking ever larger cuts of the hotel’s bottom line. Metasearch sites, however, operate on a different model, as businesses pay on a cost per acquisition (CPA) or cost per click (CPC) basis. This often results in hotels paying much less overall per booking, allowing them to keep more of their profits. TripAdvisor, for example, offers a CPA model and charges only 12-15 percent of the booking, in exchange for a guaranteed 25-50 percent visibility in search.