Metasearch Can be More Fruitful for Travel Suppliers if They Count on Value of Analytics
By Matthew Goulden Managing Director, Triometric | October 19, 2014
The battle to tilt a traveler's decision in favor of a specific brand - be it for a supplier or an intermediary - continues to get intense.
The focus is on identifying a "lead" as soon as it emerges in the digital domain, and that's where travel metasearch engines are showcasing their prowess.
A travel supplier such as a hotel chain or airline needs to plan astutely for real-time hotel inventory availability/ pricing, and optimize campaign, budget and bid management. Since suppliers are dealing with an increasing number of traffic generation sites, associated costs have gone up. No category is feeling this more keenly than hotels. And importantly, a large component of this expenditure is going into competing with OTAs, either via brand.com or other channels such as metasearch. This is unproductive since travel suppliers are paying multiple times for the same conversions! How much to embrace the metasearch phenomenon is a topic of debate at hotel distribution conferences such as those held by HEDNA in January and June of this year.
The value metasearch engines bring to travel searchers is obvious. Superior search capability delivering choice combined with a host of value-added information layers such as highlights of what else is around the neighbourhood (e.g. restaurants, nightclubs, attractions) and unadulterated reviews. A direct hotel site could offer all of this too for its own property, but still rarely does.
The value of metasearch to the hotelier was initially not clear since these sites often scrape information and rates from OTAs. But nowadays they are recognized as an opportunity to tap into an access channel to the consumer for a lower cost than is currently available through OTAs. OTA's are essentially retailers charging commission on selling someone else's goods, metasearch engines are more like media companies trading in page views and clicks/conversions for a fee. Both channels are similar but different, although boundaries are blurring, as some meta engines want to get involved in the selling process and some OTAs want to charge for enhanced entries on their sites.