By Matt Benn | Direct Channel Acquisition Consultant

Imagine you told everyone you know about your hotel. Your best friend, your neighbor, every loved one in your life. They all know your hotel is the best. It’s got the best rooms, the best views, and the best amenities. You’ve even gone to the top of a nearby mountain and shouted out to everyone below how amazing your hotel is. Your location is unbeatable. No one is as important as a cultural icon in your market as you. There are so many people that know about you and want to stay at YOUR hotel. Now imagine that those people, at the last possible moment before booking your hotel, went through somebody else and got a bad deal. Frustrating right?

That’s what happens when you use digital marketing to drive interest but don’t participate in metasearch. 

What is Metasearch? 

Metasearch is a broad term that encompasses any website where a potential guest can view your hotel’s information and the prices are gathered where that guest can choose who to book through.  The most popular sites of these are Google, TripAdvisor, Bing, Kayak, and Trivago.  They each have their own name for what it is (Google’s is Google Hotel Ads, TripAdvisor’s is Check Rates) but the concept is the same:  I’m interested in your hotel.  Whose got the best deal? 

The main OTA companies of Expedia and Booking (and their subsidiaries) both spent over $6 Billion on ad expenditure last year.  A large majority of that spend was in the metasearch space.  These companies know that’s where a lot of guests are making their final choice right before booking their next room.  It’s also an easy-to-understand marketing tactic that’s so close to the last click before booking you can clearly see the effort produces a result. 

How does it work? 

Typically, there is a cost to play in this space.  You set aside a budget with your chosen meta channel and when a user takes action on your link (a click), the meta channels deplete the cost of that click from your budget.  It’s up to whose running your campaign to make sure that you’re balancing between the cost of who you’re in front of and the OTA competition you’re bidding against.  With the right expertise at the helm, you can efficiently drive bookings and revenue with a return to justify the expense. 

What benefits does Metasearch have for the hotel? 

The core reason hotels participate in the meta space is to shift bookings that were going to an OTA to come direct.  If the campaign is managed effectively, metasearch could be one of the lowest; if not THE lowest, cost to fill a room.  You also get the benefit of increasing your marketing database because that’s now YOUR guest and not just an OTA guest staying with you.  Ancillary benefits could be a better guest experience and potential booking volume increase since those clicks take users directly into the booking engine and don’t get lost on an OTA’s website’s “noise.” 

When to campaign for Metasearch and when not? 

Nearly every hotel should investigate metasearch as a critical piece of their digital marketing effort.  This is a battleground space to compete directly with OTAs at potentially the last possible moment before conversion.  We have even seen benefit to hotels who do not use OTAs because it caters to a buyer who wants to know what the price is before ever getting into the website or booking engine.  It’s a digital tactic that guests interact with and if you’re not there; the OTAs definitely are.