Metasearch, or price comparison services – allow people to compare rates for hotels. There are a few major metasearch services, the best-known being:

  • Tripadvisor
  • Google Hotel Ads
  • Trivago
  • Kayak

There are many entities that can sell hotel rooms online using metaservices, such as OTA’s (online travel agencies), TO’s (Tour Operators) and the hotel itself.

Hotels advertised on metasearch show rates, availability and upgrades. People can even book first on the website rather than having to leave the metasearch service and go to the provider.

So if you are a hotelier, why do you need to advertise on metasearch?

Metasearch services give travellers fast and easy access to comparison options. By placing the parameters for a search, such as dates, budget, and star-rating preferences, traffic is able to see their options. Most platforms make it easy to see ratings, information, availability, images and feedback about individual properties.

Hotel metasearch is used as a marketing platform. That means that any distributor can post your hotel on a platform provided they can sell rooms at the prices and availability given. As the hotelier, you can post your hotel and direct rates to compete with OTAs who distribute your rooms.

Metasearch needs to be part of your digital distribution strategy. It will ultimately increase direct bookings and optimise your distribution costs.

How to advertise on metasearch?

To list your hotel on different metasearch services, you must be connected to the service. You transmit your rates and availability using integrated software to communicate with the metasearch service. More than one type of integration software might be required for your hotel to appear on different systems. This can become complicated, and expensive for smaller or independent hotels, so doing some market research prior to making a commitment is essential.

You can use speciality platforms that give you access to all the major metasearch services in tandem. This means that your information should be auto-update and be a true reflection of your prices and availability as it shows on your in-house system, thus avoiding issues such as double booking or major rate discrepancies.

The different metasearch services available offer different price points and packages for advertising space and search ranking.

  • Cost per click (CPC)
  • Cost per acquisition or (CPA)
  • Commission

Marketers will need to assess which of the packages are most suitable and provide the best ROI based on their specific needs.

The CPC model means that when traffic clicks on your metasearch ad you will pay a pre-determined rate for that click.

The CPA model means that the metasearch service provider is paid a percentage of the booking amount. You negotiate that amount, but higher percentages increase a property’s visibility based on the price comparison site’s algorithm.

The commission model simply means that the metasearch company is paid a percentage of the total booking fee after the client’s booked stay. This model protects hotelier’s from potential cancellations.

One of the biggest benefits of the pricing models is their flexibility. Take the time to understand your peak and low seasons and how pricing models can be used to best maximize returns in the periods.

Be ubiquitous

Having a presence on all the metasearch services provided means maximum visibility to highly-qualified leads. Most traffic, by the time they are looking at accommodation, has already committed to travelling. They might have flights booked, a rental car hired and activities planned, with finding the perfect place to stay is the last thing to do on their list.

Metasearch is essential. Most travellers use price comparisons sites to find what they are looking for when travelling. Without a presence on these sites, it is harder to reach a large audience.

You do need to ensure that you set your search parameters and use keywords that make your hotel unique among others in your category.

There are two major elements that you need to focus on:

  1. Rates: While many people use comparison sites to get an understanding of rates on offer, they are not necessarily looking for the cheapest price, but to understand what the average rate might be for a certain location, room type and other services. Having competitive rates is not always an advantage, as many travellers assume that low rates mean poor quality, so publish rates that are comparable with your competitors.
  2. Easy UX: Making a booking should be fast and easy. Dates and inclusions, as well as other options like add-ons and preferences, should be easy to select and easy to see additional costs. If making a booking is difficult on a metasearch site, it can actually deter customers, so while you might want a broad presence, be sure that the quality of the platforms you choose reflects the level of quality experience you would expect.

Some hotels have reported that bookings generated by metasearch make up to 30% of their online bookings. A metasearch distribution service paces your property before a highly qualified audience. It makes sense that these platforms are performing so well for many businesses.

Posting your hotel on price comparison sites increases your visibility and gains direct bookings. Adding the functionality to your digital marketing strategy is easy when you have the right research, data and software to ensure that your strategy will attract high-yield results.