Metasearch must be used smartly
24 JULY 2014 5:24 AM
Metasearch is all the rage in the hotel industry, but just like with any other distribution channel, hotel companies have to use the channel smartly.
One of the more interesting reports to come across my desk during the past week was authored by L2 and was a detailed report into how hoteliers can leverage metasearch to drive demand. For the uninitiated, metasearch is a search tool that sends search requests to other search engines and aggregates the results.
The industry has seen a proliferation of metasearch sites during the past few years. For instance, Expedia, Inc., took a majority stake in Trivago in March 2013, while Priceline.com purchased Kayak just a couple months later. TripAdvisor also has added metasearch capabilities to its own site.
During 2013, a significant number of travelers were using metasearch engines, according to the L2 report. In China, more than half (54%) used metasearch, with Germany coming in second at 42% followed by France (38%), the United States (36%) and the United Kingdom (35%).
Hoteliers, though, are missing the metasearch party. The report said metasearch drives 6% of online travel agencies’ upstream traffic, yet just 1% of hotel brand traffic. The report argues there is a missed opportunity here, especially as it relates to younger guests who are less likely to book via brand.com and more likely to book via an OTA’s metasearch engine. A total of 39% of millennials use metasearch for travel reservations, according to the report, a figure that trumps Generation X (25%), baby boomers (23%) and older travelers (14%).
“Metasearch engines provide hotel brands an opportunity to fight back against OTAs by driving consumers, from metasearch players, to brand sites for direct bookings at higher margins,” the report reads. “However, hotels are ceding metasearch to OTAs.”
The report continues that metasearch sites rely on a cost-per-click operating model and that brands must ensure a portion of their yearly budget is earmarked for metasearch marketing.
My take? I agree it’s a must that hotel companies have a strong presence on metasearch sites. Metasearch is going to continue to grow and be a focus in the industry and, just like it is with hotel development, hotel companies have to go where the demand is.
That said, I’d be hesitant to completely discount the OTA channel. As has been mentioned before, hotel companies have to view OTAs as just another distribution channel to be leveraged to help boost performance. Too much reliance on any channel, be it OTA, metasearch, etc., is not going to be a good thing.
I was perusing the American Hotel & Lodging Education Institute’s website earlier this week and stumbled upon its list of certification programs and members of the hotel industry who have achieved certification in their respective disciplines. Let me not forget to mention also the Hospitality Asset Managers Association, which in 2012 launched its own certification program for hotel asset managers.
This is a dynamic industry we’re working in, and so it is vitally important to ensure you’re abreast of the latest information. With that in mind, I’d like to take this opportunity to say “congrats” to all of the people working in the sector who’ve been able to add a three- or four-letter designation to their title.
Tweet of the week
This week’s tweet of the week actually looks pretty mundane at first glance.
UN Chief Calls IDF Operation In Shejaiya ‘Atrocious Actions.’ http://t.co/oxBYyEEmnU— Paul Graham (@paulg) July 21, 2014
That is a tweet from Paul Graham, a Silicon Valley tech startup guru, who walked into a hornet’s nest by posting links to stories about the ongoing conflict in Israel and Gaza. His followers jumped on the tweets immediately, insulting Graham's postings and threatening to unfollow him. Graham’s tweets also apparently lost business for the Y Combinator incubator he co-founded.
I wrote previously about how it’s important that hotel CEOs be active on Twitter, but the experience of Graham, who has 178,000 followers on Twitter, shows just how thin the line is between engaging your following and building your brand, and just throwing everything in a dumpster and setting it on fire. I’m not going to editorialize on the actions of Graham, who didn’t offer any personal comments with his tweets; I’m just going to reiterate how important it is to think before you tweet.
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