Meta Search has rapidly emerged in recent years to become one of the leading method for consumers to find the cheapest deal for hotel accommodation resulting in significant change to the distribution landscape for hotels.
Key point for independent hotels is that Meta Search allows them the opportunity, without the marketing might of a large chain, to position themselves on a level playing field with the OTAs and shift a share of their business from the OTA’s to book directly on their own site.
If set up correctly and optimised on an ongoing basis, Meta Search channels with direct connections to the hotel’s own website can lead to bookings at a lower cost per acquisition than through Online Travel Agents, allowing the hotel to distribute to a wider audience, while controlling the customer’s booking from an earlier stage.
Some OTAs send reservations to hotels with net rates, so the cost of commission is not apparent, while the Financial Controller is usually the person writing the cheque to the other OTAs, so often times the Reservations or Revenue Manager can’t appreciate the true cost of reservations from 3rd Party Sites and their impact on the bottom line.
This needs to be brought back to the strategy planning stage and analysed from the outset, taking the same reservation from the different sources and looking at the cost to the hotel per reservation.
In order to achieve this increase in direct bookings in conjunction with a decrease in the cost of bookings, Meta Search needs to be viewed as a marketing channel, something that is regularly revised and optimised, as with Google Ad Words, to ensure that the hotel is achieving the most from their investment into this channel.
The hotel’s profile needs to be up to date, regular rate parity checks need to be carried out, reviews managed and improved upon as well as the strategic management of bids, markets and rate plans on the Meta Search Engine itself.Rarely will a guest book a rate that appears any lower than the first three positions, and so this ongoing management needs to be able to react to the competition, being OTAs, pushing your hotel bid down the rankings.In order for Hotels ‘own website rates’ to appears on a Meta Search engine, Hotels must partner with a verified Booking Engine provider who can offers these connections.Net Affinity have built direct connections with some of the key travel Meta Search engines including Trivago, Trip Connect and Google Hotel Ads.Costs on all Meta Search platforms differ slightly, with some working on a cost per click model and others working on a % of booking value.However from an advertiser’s perspective the goal remains the same: Drive more direct bookings at a CPA % which is lower than that of an OTA.