We have earlier written about how achieving the best marketing mix is important for hotels to enjoy broader visibility and increase in bookings. The way new hotel technology and innovations are sprouting, it’s no wonder that a new essential component has entered into the hospitality marketing mix – meta search. Meta search engines compile information like reviews, prices, deals, comparisons and more from multiple OTAs/hotels, presenting a comprehensive view for the customer and directing them to the OTA/Hotel sites to make the final booking.
The Hottest Thing in the Travel Industry
Meta search has been in the market since 2000 but it has recently matured to take up the status of being the most popular tool in travel. Meta search engines have become the go-to reference for millions of travelers, giving serious competition to OTAs and Google Search. Foreseeing the boom in meta search engine, the market has been abuzz with strategic acquisitions – with Expedia acquiring Trivago, Priceline acquiring Kayak, TripAdvisor giving serious competition to all and Google jumping into meta search as well.
Know How it Works
The market is pulsating with acquisitions and new players. It is good news for hoteliers as it opens up one more Internet Marketing Channel. Meta search is a channel that is becoming a favorite for travelers as it offers an all-in-one consultation – reviews, price compare, deals, tips etc. What it means for the hotel marketing team is to aim for maximum visibility on this new channel. You need to make some decisions, preparations and then understand the final how to.
1. Decision – Online Distribution or Online Marketing?
Meta search marketing is a hybrid of hotel online distribution and online marketing. Hotels need to decide how to approach their marketing strategy when it comes to meta search. One of the key things to keep in mind is the Return on Ad Spend (ROAs). Treating meta search as an online distribution channel where you set a one-time rate and availability may be less cumbersome but will yield less returns and give low ROAs. Also, hoteliers may lose the opportunity to shift the share from the OTAs and get more direct bookings.
2. Preparedness – Investing in the Website
Before looking to invest in meta search marketing, it is of utmost importance to have a good hotel website. Making optimum use of the meta search channel means aiming for direct bookings viz a viz a redirect from meta search to OTA and then a booking, resulting in loss of opportunity to save on high OTA commission. Keeping an eye on metrics from website visits and being proactive in website updates will make sure that you are able to achieve maximum conversion. The guest has already shortlisted your hotel based on price and basic information on meta search engines and landed on your website. Now he would be looking for a connection and a kind of an emotional impact that will seal the deal and get him to click on the Book Now button. It will be up to your website to make the customer click on Book Now.
3. How to Work with Meta Search Engines?
Almost everyone is now aware of how Google ads work- allocating budgets, managing campaigns and bids. Meta search engines need what you have already been doing with Google Ads plus also need real time availability and rates of your room nights. This can be managed internally by the hotel with a dedicated and experienced resource, or there are specialized meta search marketing firms and special booking engines that can solve your problem of achieving maximum ROI out of your meta search marketing strategy.
Meta search represents a tremendous amount of opportunity for the hotel to sell rooms and save on OTA commission. To get maximum out of meta search engine marketing, hotels need to directly connect with it. Using meta search as an online ad channel may require more investment if hiring an agency. For some hoteliers, it may seem expensive, tedious and complex at the outset if handling in-house but in the end the value proposition is undeniable.
To know how technology plays an important role in managing your hotel bookings, click here.