Johannes Thomas Talks Metasearch with Phocuswright

Attendees at Phocuswright Europe 2017 saw trivago Managing Director Johannes Thomas take the stage with Douglas Quinby, Phocuswright’s Senior Vice President, Research, for an executive interview.

In the discussion, Thomas dives into his fascination for technology and the hospitality industry; describes how eliminating corporate hierarchies fuels entrepreneurial passion and progress; and explains why trivago is investing so heavily in becoming a global household name.

Because there’s powerful reasoning behind trivago’s “aggressive brand-building,” as Quinby calls it. It has to do with the company’s commitment to its core value proposition, the travelers using the site to search for hotels, and the hoteliers using it to compete online.

“Booking on metasearch: What’s going on?”

Referring to other major players in metasearch that are currently experimenting with their own booking options, Quinby asks the big question: “Booking on metasearch: What’s going on?”

Thomas’s answer, much like trivago’s stance on the matter, is unequivocal: “Our position was always very clear: We are not a booking site. We don’t believe in this hybrid idea.” He later explains the logic behind this position and why trivago will not budge from it: It would create significant confusion for the user, who wouldn’t understand with whom they are booking.

“We are a metasearch,” stresses Thomas. “We make the market transparent for [the user]with this tool.”

And that is exactly the clear value proposition trivago provides to its users: a transparent market with an unbiased selection of hotel offers to choose from. The traveler’s goal is to find their ideal hotel at the lowest rate; trivago’s is to make that possible by presenting them with a complete list of every hotel deal available online that perfectly fits their search criteria, whatever that may be.

“They put their brand on top.”

“And the booking part, the reason why we’ve been doing this, is to empower our advertisers [hotels]to compete in our marketplace.” Thomas points out that some advertisers, the big names in hotel booking, are good at building products that perform well and booking funnels that convert well. Then there are others that “don’t have the data, don’t have the resources to do that.”

Which is why trivago is providing the data and the technology to help level the playing field, so that every hotel can compete on this leading global metasearch, says Thomas. And not only does this technology enable the smaller hotel businesses to compete online, with simplified campaign management and better conversion chances; it enables them to do so with their own branding, their own identity: “They put their brand on top.”

In fact, the booking stage is the one part of the online journey where trivago does not want its branding visible, does not want to be in the traveler’s mind. It’s important that the traveler knows exactly where they are booking, and with which brand. For the foreseeable future, that’s not going to be trivago.

Because trivago is looking to build a transparent and robust marketplace in which all hotels have a fighting chance at winning the guest with simple-to-use and affordable technology. What it’s not looking to do is become a competitor in that marketplace.

Watch the full executive interview