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Why hotels can’t afford to ignore metasearch | Article

Many hoteliers are unfamiliar with the benefits of metasearch and how it can boost a hotel’s chances of getting found by potential guests.

The concept has been around for a while, but it’s now one of the fastest growing online sales channels for hotels.

To briefly explain it, a metasearch engine aggregates search results into a list of real-time updates, comparing hotel prices and availability. Essentially, they send user requests (searches) to several other search engines, before pulling them into a list that’s easy to compare.

The person browsing can then look at hotel room rates from various booking channels to find the best price – something usually dominated by third party booking sites.

Searching on Google for a hotel stay sees metasearch results appear prominently, with key examples being TripAdvisor and Trivago.

This prominence gives hotels a huge opportunity, as it’s one of the first things prospective guests see when searching, with a metasearch strategy allowing you to combine both a booking channel and an online environment in which to showcase your hotel.

Potential guests often use metasearch to check reviews and accommodation standards, as well as comparing prices, so being prominent here certainly pays off.

Cutting commission fees

Ensuring your direct channel is on metasearch greatly helps to reduce commission fees, as you’re competing there alongside the third parties, letting guests see direct prices first and thereby taking back control from OTAs, while also providing a seamless booking experience for guests.

At Profitroom, we look to make this straightforward and non-reactive by allowing direct integration between our booking engine and metasearch, therefore simplifying the management of rates and availability.

How does it work?

Advertising on channels such as Google or Trivago sees results display the hotel’s direct rate alongside the OTA rates – with an official website tag (for the hotel) providing an advantage. A prospective guest clicking the link goes directly to the hotel’s onsite booking page where they can check, not just the connected offer, but also other packages and experiences – helping the hotel to upsell eye-catching extras.

One search then, allows a guest to see rates from all channels in one place, with an option to book direct. Without this option being there, it’s all too easy for a hotel to lose this booking to an OTA, with their subsequent commission.

Metasearch advertising effectively shortens the path to converting a direct booking. It’s an essential tactic in the marketing mix.

A competitive advantage

Most hoteliers face the challenge of managing high cost OTA bookings. A metasearch campaign helps with this by:

·   Minimising distribution costs

·   Increasing brand awareness

·   Decreasing OTA reliance

·   Increasing direct-booking rates

·   Attracting new guests

Advertising on metasearch engines offers a competitive advantage over rival hotels who leave it to OTAs to dominate the space – as they’ll be the ones suffering from commission fees.

A crucial part of the guest journey

94% of travellers report they’ve used metasearch when booking a hotel stay, with 73% doing so regularly (according to EyeforTravel and Fornova’s study in 2019), making it a crucial part of most guest search journeys. Utilising it offers new ways to tap into the online guest booking experience, maximising the exposure of your hotel’s brand.

Improved visibility

Metasearch channels enhance your hotel’s online visibility and you can use Google’s tools to help by:

·   Utilising Google My Business to gain additional brand exposure

·   Being visible and bookable in Google Hotel Ads

·   Having prices displayed upon every hotel search – even on Google Maps

As optimised online guest experience

When looking to book a hotel, people engage with numerous digital touchpoints and you need to appear in all the areas where your guest is searching, and metasearch is a cost-effective way of driving quality traffic.

Channels such as Google Hotel Ads are fully optimised for mobile, allowing guests to book directly with your hotel whilst staying within the app.

However, a good booking engine is still a central part of a metasearch campaign. Make sure your booking engine experience (on desktop and mobile) exceeds expectation, being both user friendly and optimised, thereby helping to 1) finalise a booking and 2) increase the likelihood of repeat business.

Rate parity

This element is essential. Metasearch, by its very function, is a comparison website. If you offer a publicised rate that exceeds OTAs, then bookers will ignore your direct channel and opt for the cheapest.

Of course, assessing rates manually would be very time consuming so make sure your booking engine, whichever you use, provides automatic rate parity with OTAs.

Metasearch campaigns can also be managed via a cost per click approach or a cost per action, so you can decide which you’d prefer and which is right for you.

To illustrate cost effectiveness and taking Google Hotel Ads as an example, in the last 6 months, using the integrated connectivity of our booking engine, our clients have seen an average cost of acquisition (COA) of 7.79% – far lower than OTA commissions. Furthermore, using Trivago for resort properties, we achieved a COA of 9.76% – again, far lower than OTA costs, and something that highlights the revenue benefits of metasearch.

To summarise, metasearch is cost-effective, helps you take back control of OTA bookings and it gives you more exposure online. You simply can’t afford to overlook it.

By Kirsty Beasley, the market development manager for Profitroom

Profitroom is a leading provider of hotel marketing services that seeks to drive revenue and increase profits for leisure hotels and resorts around the world. From delivering innovative SaaS solutions to marketing and consultancy services, Profitroom’s central aim since its launch in 2008 has been to support hoteliers in improving their revenues and thereby the bottom line. Via its award-winning offering, Profitroom’s effective, targeted communications formulates key messaging in a way that obtains optimal results. A keen understanding of both the needs of the hotelier and the desires of the guest, has served to put Profitroom at the forefront of the industry, having cultivated expertise through longstanding relationships with hundreds of hotel industry experts and operators.

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