By Kirsty Beasley, Market Development Manager, Profitroom
When looking to book a hotel stay, a Google search is usually someone’s go to method of doing so, which means appearing high in the rankings is essential if you want to get seen.
This is of course easier said than done, but the fact is there’s a simple step that you can take to get you appearing prominently on the first page of the search results – and that’s by using metasearch.
Essentially, a metasearch engine aggregates search results into a list of real-time updates, compiling hotel prices and availability into an easily comparable list.
As a concept, it’s been around for a while, but it’s now one of the fastest growing online sales channels for hotels.
Searching on Google for a hotel stay sees metasearch results appear prominently, with room rates displayed from various booking channels, including TripAdvisor and Trivago.
It’s a space though that’s usually dominated by third parties, resulting in high commission fees for hotels as they miss out on securing direct bookings thanks to not being present in the metasearch results. A hotel then, needs to be there.
As one of the first things prospective guests see when searching, a metasearch strategy allows you to combine both a booking channel and an online environment in which to showcase your hotel – displaying not just prices, but reviews and accommodation standards too.
Cutting the commission
One of the core benefits is reduced commission fees. Competing alongside third parties lets guests see your direct prices first, helping you take back control from OTAs – while also creating a seamless booking experience.
At Profitroom, we allow direct integration between our booking engine and metasearch, thereby creating a straightforward and non-reactive process, which serves to simplify the management of rates and availability.
How does it work?
Advertising on Google or Trivago sees the hotel’s direct rate displayed alongside the OTA rates – with an official website tag (for the hotel) providing an advantage. A curious guest who clicks the link goes directly to the hotel’s onsite booking page where they can check both the connected offer, and other packages and experiences – thereby offering a great opportunity for an upsell.
A single search then, lets guests see rates from all channels in one place, with an option to book direct. If a hotel isn’t here, then it’s all too easy for an OTA to take the booking and subsequently charge a commission.
Hotels should use metasearch advertising to shorten the path to converting a direct booking.
A competitive edge
A metasearch campaign helps hoteliers to:
· Minimise distribution costs
· Increase brand awareness
· Decrease reliance on OTAs
· Increase direct-booking rates
· Attract new guests
If you advertise on metasearch engines and your competitors don’t, you can gain a competitive edge – as they’ll be the ones suffering thanks to high commission fees.
Guests definitely use it
If you’re thinking guests don’t really use it as a channel, think again. 94% of travellers report they’ve used metasearch when making a booking, with 73% doing so regularly (according to EyeforTravel and Fornova’s study in 2019). This makes it a critical part of most guest search journeys and therefore one you need to tap into.
Metasearch also enhances the online visibility of your hotel. People engage with numerous digital touchpoints when looking to book a hotel stay, and you need to appear in all the areas where your guest is searching. 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
An optimised online experience
Channels such as Google Hotel Ads are fully optimised for mobile, which allows guests to book directly with your hotel whilst staying within the app.
A good booking engine though is still a central part of a metasearch campaign. Make sure your booking engine experience (for both desktop and mobile) surpasses guest expectation. Making it user friendly and optimised helps to 1) ensure a booking is completed and 2) increases the likelihood of a guest coming back.
This element can’t be understated. Metasearch is, fundamentally, a comparison website. If you offer a publicised rate that’s more than the OTAs, guests will simply bypass you and opt for the cheapest. Be sure to use a booking engine that provides automatic rate parity – otherwise it’s a time-consuming process to manually work this out.
Metasearch is a cost-effective way of driving quality traffic, and you can choose between a cost per click approach to a campaign and a cost per action. Decide your preference and go with what’s right for you.
Just to quickly illustrate cost effectiveness and using Google Hotel Ads as an example, in the last 6 months, our clients have seen an average cost of acquisition (COA) of 7.79%, while, using Trivago for our resorts, we achieved a COA of 9.76%. Both of these are far lower than OTA commission fees, which helps to highlight the revenue benefits of metasearch.
In summary, metasearch is 1) cost-effective, 2) it helps you take back control of OTA bookings and 3) it offers you more online exposure. Given this, you simply can’t afford to overlook it.
Kirsty Beasley, is the Market Development Manager for Profitroom, a leading provider of hospitality marketing and direct booking solutions