When it comes to marketing your hotel, the list of strategies available to you can seem overwhelming and the landscape seems to be changing at a rate of knots! One of the newer and less well-understood channels in the travel industry is metasearch advertising. Feedback at industry events tells us that many property owners are finding themselves a bit lost in the jargon and unsure where to start.
What is metasearch? How effective is it as an advertising channel? When should I be advertising? How much should I be spending? How do I even get started? These are some of the questions that we’ve been hearing. So we thought we’d put together a guide to help you navigate the metasearch landscape.
So let’s start by clarifying some of the terminologies. It’s important to understand the difference between the distribution channels.
Basically, a metasearch engine aggregates results from other search engines. In the hotel and travel industry, this means the meta search engine will display your rates in the search results based on listings primarily from online travel agencies (OTA’s). This will happen regardless of whether you are advertising.
The key thing to note here is that your website direct booking rate will not be displayed unless you have paid to advertise.
While a metasearch engine doesn’t sell inventory, with metasearch advertising you can pay to display your book direct rate in the metasearch results.
So if you decide to advertise on a metasearch platform, you are not selling your rooms directly as you would with an OTA. You are effectively paying to display your own hotel website or booking engine alongside the OTA’s.
Check out our Guide to Travel Industry Terminology, which explains the terms in a bit more detail.
While there are hundreds of metasearch engines across a variety of industries, in the travel industry there are only a few that you need to be aware of. These include:
It’s fair to say that TripAdvisor and Google have become the dominant players. While TripAdvisor may have been the trailblazer in travel metasearch with its TripConnect advertising platform, it’s now hard to go past Google Hotel Ads as the platform of choice.
While the previous incarnation, Google Hotel Finder, has been around since 2011, the platform got a major overhaul last year with enhanced hotel search, map functionality and a cleaner, more user-friendly look with lots of property images and it now offers direct instant booking functionality.
Our recent blog explains how the Google Hotel Booking System is transforming property reservations.
As the primary objective is not to sell inventory but to collate and display a list of all available rooms and their rates, travel metasearch engines usually do not charge commissions to property owners, but charge the booking sites for clicks sent directly to them on a pay per click basis.
Take a look at how metasearch results display in Google. Notice that this hotel is paying for metasearch advertising as their official website rate appears right alongside the rates from the OTA’s.
When you click on the official website you are taken directly to the hotels own booking page.
So, in just one search a potential guest can see the rates from ALL channels in one place AND make a direct booking.
Shortening the path to getting a direct booking is what is making metasearch advertising an irresistible proposition when it comes to your marketing budget. It’s a seamless process and conversion is high.
It’s largely based on a pay per click model, meaning you will only pay for your ad if someone clicks on it. However in the case of TripAdvisor and Google Hotel Ads, as they offer the ability to book direct, you will pay them a commission. However, these commissions will be lower than those that you pay the OTA’s, again making metasearch advertising an increasingly appealing option.
Metasearch ads appear on all devices across multiple channels e.g. TripAdvisor, HotelsCombined and Google Hotel Ads. However, you can choose which platforms you want to include and exclude.
Google has partnered with a select network of integration partners only to connect hotels to this service. HiRUM is proud to be one of these and can provide Google Hotel Ads setup for your property.
We can also help to make sure that your website has an effective booking engine to take full advantage of this new opportunity and ensure you convert your lookers to bookers! In addition, our industry-leading channel manager integrates with all the major travel metasearch engines and OTA’s.
If you would like to explore how metasearch advertising can work for your property, contact the marketing team at HiRUM and let us help get you started with metasearch advertising.
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