Much has been written over metasearch channels – fact is metasearch has become an increasingly crucial and complex channel for hotels. According to a recent study published by our partner Fornova in association with Eye For Travel, 73% of travelers regularly compare hotels, making it an important channel for hoteliers to reach their customer at every touchpoint.
For long, OTAs and top hotel brands have been investing a considerable amount of their marketing budget to be visible in metasearch channels. Independent properties, due to marketing budget constraint and technical challenges, have so far been slow to embrace it. However used efficiently, metasearch channels can be one of the most cost-effective ways independent hotels can take bake the control of bookings, currently dominated by OTAs. In this article, we look into four things hotels need to know before investing on metasearch.
Improve visibility of your property to your potential guests
Your potential guests are using it. OTAs are also using it. With Google turning into a full-fledged metasearch engine, metasearch has taken the centerstage at the traveller’s research process. According to Phocuswright’s Independent Lodging Properties and the Online Marketplace, over 63% independent properties in Europe and North America now have implemented Internet Booking Engines (IBR) and mobile enabled website. However with over two-third of the bookings (79% and 69% in the U.S. and Europe) coming from online, over-dependence on OTAs have taken a toll on their profitability. Independent hotels want to focus on direct bookings, and meta-search is one of the most cost-effective channels available to drive guests to brand websites.
Optimize the mobile experience
The travel is shifting to mobile. According to a report by Criteo, over one third people in developed economy now use mobile devices to book hotel rooms. Even as the booking landscape varies between demographics, OTAs’ dominance in mobile bookings remain constant. One reason that can be attributed to this shift is OTAs are essentially technology company. They have the resources and expertise to invest on technology. For hotels, especially the independent ones, competing OTAs with technology can be a mammoth task. This is where metasearch comes in. Metasearch channels like Google Hotel Ads are mobile optimized, and allows travelers to book directly with the hotel while staying within the app. However, that does not mean a metasearch campaign will be effective without a good booking engine. Make sure your booking engine experience on both desktop and mobile matches the expectation of travelers.
Google is the king of metasearch
Launched in 2011 as Hotel Finder, Google Hotel Ads has grown exponentially over the years in terms of click volumes and ROI. According to a recent study by our partner Roiback, Google Hotel Ads now accounts for over 65% of hotel bookings coming from metasearch channels. In one of our earlier articles, we discussed how Google has become a popular platform for hoteliers even as OTAs traditionally dominate metasearch sites. As Google makes definite moves to be a part of first touch point in the online purchasing journey for most travelers, Google Hotel Ads, with improved booking capabilities that includes price filtering and amenity details, has become a must have in hotelier’s metasearch plan.
Rate Parity matters
Rate Parity has been a much debated topic within the hotel industry, however for metasearch advertising , it is one vital things hotel can not ignore. Metasearch still remains primarily a site to compare hotel options and rates. If your published rate on the brand website is higher than your OTA rates, potential bookers would simply ignore your direct channel. The lack of rate parity also makes the consumer wary of the hotel’s approach and thereby defeating the purpose of investing in metasearch for broader distribution.
To get the best returns on your metasearch investment, it’s important to manage your campaign effectively, and if possible, avail advise of digital experts. Managed properly, if can drive more direct bookings and give you good returns – otherwise it would just be an investment gone into expenditure.
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