Metasearch for Hoteliers: Winning Direct Bookings

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This is the second article in our series ‘Metasearch for Hoteliers’ that will help you understand how to make the most of metasearch and win direct bookings by running successful metasearch campaigns.

In the first article of this series, we discussed what metasearch is and how important it is in today’s digital world for hotels to have a competitive edge. In this article, let’s focus on direct bookings and metasearch as a distribution channel. Here we answer the questions people often ask when planning to start a metasearch campaign:

“What are the benefits of direct bookings?”

OTAs can be an important distribution channel, but they are no match for booking direct. According to a report by Kalibri Labs, “Direct bookings remain more profitable for the hotel industry — to the tune of 9 percent — and when factoring in ancillary spend, profitability can be almost 18 percent better.”

Specific benefits of direct bookings include cutting down on high OTA commission costs and having full control over communication with the customers. These benefits can lead to saving extra expenditure and ensuring guest acquisition and guest retention for fostering better relationships and loyalty.

“Why am I not able to win direct bookings?”

Hoteliers used to view their competition in a very traditional manner before the digital era. Their primary competitors were other hotels. But now, the level of competition for hotels has increased manifold and the scope is now well beyond the traditional hotels. And, we are talking about third-party booking websites or OTAs here.

OTAs these days are the biggest competitors and driving direct bookings is the biggest challenge for hoteliers of all sizes globally. Deloitte in its Travel and Hospitality Industry Outlook hints on the battle for the customer and notes, “The perpetual tug-of-war between travel suppliers and online intermediaries may intensify, particularly in the hotel sector where the stakes are rising. For the first time ever, OTA hotel bookings now exceed total hotel website bookings.” This strong OTA momentum is a cause of worry for hoteliers who want to drive direct bookings to their properties.

“How can metasearch help me boost direct bookings?”

In spite of strong OTA growth, hotels are not powerless in the battle for distribution. There are many ways through which hotels can lure travelers to their websites – metasearch being one of such ways. The growth of metasearch has helped independent lodging properties recover some lost ground when it comes to driving direct bookings.

Phocuswright’s study along with trivago, Independent Lodging Properties and the Online Marketplace, mentions, “The growth of metasearch has helped independent lodging properties claw back some control of how their properties are being sold from the increasingly dominant OTAs. Since it bridges the gap between marketing and distribution, satisfaction with metasearch as a means of doing business is high, so much so that 42% of independent lodging properties wish to make increased use of this channel for distribution in the future.”

Promote your website rates to drive direct bookings

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“What are the things I should consider while running a metasearch campaign?”

Here are some key factors that you should keep in mind while running a metasearch campaign for maximum profitability.

1. Know your audience:

As pointed out earlier, metasearch is an advertising and a distribution channel. Know your audience well to target them in a better way. Travelers’ decisions do not always depend upon price alone. Try to comprehend what they might be looking for in a certain context and compete with other hotels on those factors. Reach, user intent, and bidding capabilities – all need to be considered while taking crucial decisions.

2. Manage your profile:

Make sure that you share accurate property content, like description, pricing, and images on the metasearch site. The better and more accurate your information is, the higher your chances of ranking well.

3. Build a well-designed website and a booking engine:

Make sure that you greet your customers with a highly optimized and well-designed website when they visit your site to make direct bookings. Also, work with a high-quality booking engine to ensure more direct hotel bookings. A booking engine will help you convert your visitors to your guests. Thus, this is your chance to win direct bookings. Make sure that you have high-value content, attractive images as well as a seamless payment solution right on your website.

4. Don’t forget metasearch connectivity:

One of the prerequisites of driving direct bookings via metasearch is having an integrated booking engine. This will make sure that your rates and availability from your hotel website are sent directly to the metasearch engines. When picking a booking engine or a channel manager, ask them for their conversion numbers and their performance so far.

5. Take care of rate parity:

Getting listed on metasearch means disparity is highlighted right in front of the potential guest’s eye. So, you should consider ways around parity management on metasearch, like spot-checking your rates on OTAs regularly.

Case in Point: trivago: With trivago, you can build and manage your unique hotel profile. To make sure that it stands out in trivago search results, fill in your Hotel Information, which includes Hotel Details, Images, Room Types, and a Description.

trivago Hotel Profile

“What are the pricing options?”

Once you have got a metasearch strategy sorted out and you have your website, booking engine, and connectivity in place, it’s time to launch the campaign. But the biggest question here is: what about the pricing?

Well, depending on the type of integration you’ve chosen you’ll probably be paying CPC (cost-per-click) or CPA (cost-per-acquisition). With the CPC model, you pay each time a link to your site is clicked whereas, with the CPA model, you pay each time a traveler completes a specific action, like each time a traveler makes a booking.

Case in Point: trivago: With a trivago Business Studio account, you can manage your profile’s content, monitor your performance, and track your online reputation with no fees and no commissions involved. However, if you want to promote your direct rates on your trivago profile, then you’ll want to start a Rate Connect campaign. The Rate Connect app enables you to drive direct bookings. It uses the CPC pricing model, which is also known as pay-per-click (PPC). This model simply means that trivago charges a small fee each time a traveler clicks on your direct rate.

“I don’t have marketing knowledge. Can I still run a metasearch campaign?”

According to Phocuswright’s study, Independent Lodging Properties and the Online Marketplace, “Awareness and understanding are key barriers to adopting digital technologies helpful in boosting direct bookings. As a result, it is difficult for independent lodging properties to make further progress at optimizing their distribution and improving their financial performance.”

Therefore, metasearch engines these days are built up keeping in mind the limited marketing and technical knowledge of busy hoteliers. It is vital for hoteliers to invest some time and effort to monitor and optimize metasearch campaigns in order to ensure their success.

Case in Point: trivago: Keeping this factor in mind and helping hoteliers to overcome their barriers to adopting digital technologies, trivago aims to keep this as simple as possible. At trivago, you can find free as well as paid marketing products and features which are simple to use and are highly customizable. And, if you face any problem along the way, we are always here to help!

If you want to understand what metasearch is, read our first article in the series: Metasearch for Hoteliers: Knowing the Basics

Featured image: Helloquence on Unsplash