Hotel metasearch platforms serve as an important distribution channel for businesses in the hospitality industry, because many modern travellers will use the internet to shop around for the best rates, and will turn to price comparison platforms to assist them with this. In this post, you will learn more about why the best hotel management strategies utilise hotel metasearch, and you will also find nine practical tips to help you increase your number of bookings.
- What is Hotel Metasearch?
- Hotel Metasearch vs. Online Travel Agents (OTAs)
- 9 Tips to Increase Bookings Through Hotel Metasearch
- 1. Find the Right Hotel Metasearch Mix
- 2. Get a Distribution Channel Manager
- 3. Use Astounding Pictures
- 4. Create an Attractive Hotel Description
- 5. Understand Your Competitors
- 6. Hotel Metasearch Advertising
- 7. Set the Right Room Rates
- 8. Prioritise Review Management
- 9. Analyse Hotel Metasearch Results
- List of Hotel Metasearch Platforms to Grow Your Hotel Bookings
- List of Online Travel Agents to Increase Your Hotel Bookings
- Your Most Important Hotel Distribution Channel
- More Distribution Tips to Optimise Revenue
A ‘metasearch platform’ is an online tool, which is used to retrieve data from a number of other search channels. Data is then aggregated, before being presented to users in a simple format. A hotel metasearch platform focuses on the hotel industry and will typically draw information from online travel agents and other similar websites.
Most commonly, hotel metasearch platforms function as price comparison tools, while also presenting supplementary information, such as reviews. They are widely used by modern travellers, who typically want to find hotel rooms for the best possible price. Hotel metasearch platforms also make it easier for customers to find your hotel.
Examples of some of the most popular hotel metasearch sites include Google Hotel Ads, TripAdvisor and Trivago.
People often confuse hotel metasearch platforms with online travel agents and while they do share similarities, there are also significant differences. The most important distinction is that an online travel agent actually sells travel products – such as hotel rooms – on behalf of suppliers and then retains a commission fee for making the sale.
By comparison, hotel metasearch platforms present information that is taken from OTAs and other hotel websites. They are used to find information about availability, pricing and customer opinions. Generally, they will link through to another booking platform and they tend to make money either through commission or through selling ad space.
9 Tips to Increase Bookings Through Hotel Metasearch
For your property to show up in hotel metasearch results pages, you will first need to connect your rates and availability information to one or more online travel agents, with examples including Booking.com and Expedia.com.
These OTAs will continuously optimise their own hotel inventory strategies, resulting in different deals being offered to each market separately. As a result, your hotel may appear on some localised hotel metasearch platforms, but not others. Connecting to an increased number of OTAs can help to improve the chances of your hotel being discovered by metasearch websites, especially in your local market or the markets you are specifically targeting.
Some metasearch platforms provide those in the hotel industry with the option to create and manage their own profile, while also offering access to performance metrics and direct advertising possibilities. Additionally, many of these platforms will also allow you to connect directly, in order to keep room rates and availability up-to-date.
The nine tips below are applicable to hotel metasearch platforms, but can also be applied to OTAs as well.
One of the first things to try to understand with hotel metasearch marketing efforts is that you need to connect with the right channels, so that your room availability is visible to the types of people you want to attract. This means connecting with metasearch platforms directly, when possible, but also connecting indirectly too.
The point to remember here is that connecting to OTAs will make your hotel visible through metasearch channels. Therefore, your OTA strategy will, generally speaking, also apply to hotel metasearch platforms. Connecting with OTAs that have reach into your key markets and target demographics will help you to find the right hotel metasearch mix.
As previously mentioned, some hotel metasearch platforms take all of their results from online travel agents, requiring you to connect with OTAs to boost visibility, while others also offer options to connect directly. Effectively managing these distribution channels can, however, be greatly aided by specialist software.
Distribution channel managers are software solutions that allow you to manage multiple distribution channels from a single place. Crucially, this can be especially useful when it comes to achieving consistency across different channels, not only in terms of pricing, but also in terms of descriptions, images and marketing messages.
Pictures can help you to make a great first impression, but only if you use high-quality photographs, which showcase the best elements of your hotel. Use the best equipment you can to take photos and try to capture ‘action’ shots that actually convey something about your hotel. Then upload these images so metasearch users see them.
It is important to understand that online travel agents and hotel metasearch platforms operate in tandem here, because the images you upload to OTAs will also be visible through metasearch platforms. However, some metasearch platforms also offer their own profile management options, allowing you to upload and edit photographs directly.
Travellers will often make decisions by reading about hotels, so the hotel description you use can make a big difference. Try to draft a hotel description that clearly highlights the most attractive features of your hotel and the aspects that make it stand out from rivals. Think of the types of guest you are targeting and what they want to read.
As with pictures, the hotel description you use for online travel agents will usually be visible on hotel metasearch platforms. Yet, some metasearch platforms will allow you to create a hotel profile and add your own description, and there may be advantages to using different descriptions for channels that offer reach into different markets.
Competition within the hotel industry is fierce and customers are often required to make decisions between different hotels in the same area. It is important, therefore, to know about these rival hotels, understand what their pros and cons are, and position your hotel so that it has unique selling points.
Hotel metasearch platforms can actually help with this, because they allow you to see reviews and pricing information in one place. However, you should also carry out extra research too. Explore feedback from their customers, track their room rates and avoid situations where you are making similar promises and charging higher prices.
When a customer finds a room via a hotel metasearch platforms, they are usually directed to an OTA platform to actually complete the booking. If that customer subsequently does so, the hotel pays the usual commission fee that the OTA charges them for sales. In addition to this, many metasearch platforms targeting the hotel industry also sell advertising space on a cost per click (CPC) basis, with the advertiser paying a fee each time their ad is clicked.
This allows your hotel to bid for ad space and target specific keywords, such as city names or your own hotel’s name. Successful bidding means that when a potential hotel guest enters that keyword into the metasearch platform, your ad is displayed. Of course, some keywords are more valuable and will have a higher cost per click than others.
In most cases, if the ad is clicked, the cost per click will be paid, but no commission is charged for the booking. Another similar option is cost per action (CPA). This tends to apply when a direct connection with the hotel metasearch platform is possible and with this model, a commission fee is often charged for eventual bookings.
Regardless of the approach you opt for, it is important to continuously measure ROI for each advertising method and metasearch platform. This will allow you to make the most of your budget and maximise revenue per channel.
Ultimately, regardless of the distribution channel(s) you use, your pricing strategy will have a huge bearing on whether or not travellers book rooms. There is a lot to consider when determining your room rates, such as using forecasting to anticipate demand at different times and checking the room rates offered by rival hotels.
Generally, at times of high demand, you can afford to increase room rates and still fill your hotel. However, at times of lower demand, you may need to lower room rates to attract as many guests as possible and avoid vacancies. It is also important to try to be consistent with your prices across the different distribution channels.
Prior to booking a room, many customers will seek out online reviews to get an idea of what previous guests have thought of the hotel and the customer service on offer. For this reason, it is important to adopt a review management strategy and there are a number of review management platforms that are aimed at the hotel industry that can help.
It is especially vital that you read reviews, identify common complaints and address them quickly. The way you respond to feedback can also influence whether or not people will book a room with your hotel. Your reviews from OTAs will be visible on most hotel metasearch platforms, but some metasearch platforms also collect reviews directly too.
Finally, you will need to make sure that you monitor the results generated from your hotel metasearch strategy and analyse them, so that you have an understanding of how the distribution channel is actually serving you.
As you analyse the results, you should start to build up a clear idea of the markets you are reaching and those you are not. That can help identify a need to reach out to other OTAs. You will also want to keep track of key metrics associated with metasearch platforms and ensure your room rates are generating the maximum revenue possible.
Building an understanding of how to fully capitalise on hotel metasearch platforms is imperative when it comes to optimising both your distribution and revenue management strategies. However, it is only part of the story and it is equally important to identify the right metasearch platforms to focus your efforts on.
In our “List of Hotel Metasearch Engines to Grow Your Hotel Bookings” article, you will find a list containing some of the best hotel metasearch platforms around, complete with information about how they function.
To maximise your visibility across hotel metasearch platforms, you will need to connect with online travel agents. Of course, rather than adopting a scatter-gun approach, it is best to think carefully about the best OTAs to target. After all, different OTAs will offer reach into different parts of the world, and will appeal to different types of traveller.
In our “Online Travel Agents to Increase Your Hotel Bookings” article, you will be able to learn more about online travel agents, and you will also find a list of 12 of the most popular OTAs to connect with.
Both hotel metasearch platforms and online travel agents represent essential distribution channels for those in the hotel industry who are looking to maximise bookings. Yet, the reality is that the single most important distribution channel for your hotel will always be your own website, because direct bookings are not subject to commission payments.
Over the course of the article “Tips To Gain More Bookings With Your Hotel Website”, you will learn more about the value of your own website and find eight tips for increasing bookings via this key channel.
Hotel metasearch platforms are an important distribution channel, allowing you to reach more customers, and the nine tips provided in this article will assist you in optimising your metasearch strategy and gaining more bookings.
More Distribution Tips to Optimise RevenueThe distribution mix that hotels choose to use have a significant impact on their marketing and revenue management strategy, and on their overall success. In the following articles you find more distribution strategies to optimise your revenue:
- List of Corporate Travel Agents for Hotels to Gain More Business Travellers
- Global Distribution System (GDS): What Are the Benefits for Hotels?
- Hotel Advertisement; 10 Effective Hotel Advertising Strategies
- Hotel Distribution Channel Manager: What Are the Advantages?
- Hotel Marketing; The Latest Trends in the Hotel Industry