Reaching travelers is no easy task for hoteliers. However, with metasearch marketing, properties can increase their visibility and engage them.
According to a Google trends report, it can take up to 36 days for a person to book an accommodation, and they may use 45 touch points across different devices and websites to do so. This is due to over-exposure to ads and options that don’t match their preferences and expectations.
Metasearch engines such as Google Hotel Ads, TripAdvisor, Trivago, Kayak and Skyscanner, are great tools to improve the visibility of accommodations among travelers and offer them options suited to their preferences, as well as to stay competitive with online travel agencies (OTAs), and generate more direct bookings. That’s why including them in the marketing mix of any property type is essential.
Metasearch engines are systems that encompass and link other search engines. In the hotel industry, a metasearch engine is a web portal that gathers information and data about hotels from various online distribution channels. This makes the purchasing process easier, as it allows travelers to compare all the available options in one place.
Most metasearch engines work in the same way. The search begins when the user enters a destination and dates for travel and, like OTAs, the results present a list of hotels along with the best available rate. By clicking on a result, they are shown full information about the accommodation, photos, reviews and prices depending on the type of room.
Once the user decides to make a reservation, they click on an option to be taken to the accommodation’s website. In some metasearch engines, users can book directly without leaving the portal.
The links are usually redirected to OTAs such as Booking.com, Expedia, Travelocity and Hotels.com, but also to other search engines.
The hotel pages that are advertised on metasearch engines are linked within these portals so the user can book directly, without going through the OTAs’ websites.
Unlike metasearch engines, OTAs have their own database of properties and their own booking channels. Metasearch engines only display the results obtained from these booking channels.
If hotels and accommodations maintain parity, the offers shown on the different distribution channels are similar to those on the hotels’ websites. However, there usually are significant variations, as distribution channels gain more clicks when they show lower rates.
Another difference between metasearch engines and OTAs is their booking model. OTAs charge commissions and percentages for each booking, while most metasearch engines operate on a cost-per-click model.
Hotels should include metasearch engines in their marketing strategy as they serve as effective advertising channels that maximize their visibility. These engines use a payment model (pay-per-click or commission payment) to show an ad within the first search results. This increases the likelihood of users clicking on it.
Although it is a considerable investment, the ROI is high. Therefore metasearch marketing is a great opportunity for accommodations to secure more direct bookings and increase their revenue.
There are several strategies that accommodations and hotels can employ to maximize the return on marketing investment. Here are some of them:
- Select the right channels for the type of accommodation and target market.
Establish the budget and parameters to invest in each channel.
Maintain rate parity across all distribution channels.
Diversify offers to attract different segments of travelers.
Optimize advertisements with updated information and quality images.
Manage user reviews and opinions.
Monitor the performance of each channel to maximize efforts.
Metasearch engines require time and effort. To ensure optimal performance across channels, avoid mistakes and save time, properties can work with connectivity partners.
These partners own management systems and solutions that help properties increase their online presence and secure more bookings.