What exactly is a metasearch engine?
Meta search are unique search engines that display the current live rates of hotels across a number of different channels.
In their most basic form, metasearch platforms are websites that compare the different prices of products available for purchase online.
In the hospitality industry, a metasearch is a price-comparison engine for hotels and other accommodations. It aggregates rates and information from several travel sites to provide the maximum variety and the best available rates to the bookers. Thus, travelers can easily find the best deals for a hotel at a certain location with their desired amenities and within a specific time and price range. Whenever any traveler is interested in a listing and clicks on it, he is redirected to an OTA or the hotel website to complete the booking.
It's all about visibility
On a metasearch platform, each price provider is considered an advertiser. These can be from OTAs, tour operators or also the direct hotel website.
The business model of Google, Trivago, Tripadvisor & Co.
Meta searches sell visibility or advertising space as a product to individual advertisers (e.g. OTAs and hotels) via an auction model. This means: Anyone can bid and get the top positions.
In the case of hotels, for example, resellers who have access to availabilities and prices from the hotel. OTAs use the meta search engines primarily as a marketing channel to boost traffic.
And this is how the auction model works on meta searches
Meta searches are based on a rather complex auction model. Different parties compete for the best position within the meta searches. Those who want to participate in this auction have to pay the price they are willing to invest in order to obtain a certain level of visibility in the ranking of the respective metasearch – by doing that they are actively “bidding” in the auction.
The thought process behind the bidding process consists of monitoring certain KPI’s (e.g. impression share, number of clicks, costs, ROI etc.) and formulating conclusions out of it (e.g. increase bid in order to increase visibility and vice versa).
Increasing a bid would mean to pay a higher cost per click. Thus, if someone clicks on your ad you pay more for the click than before. In a best-case scenario, an increase of a cpc goes along with better visibility (impression share) which leads to more people clicking on your ad and completing a booking. Thus, the rise in cost is bearable as the return on investment rises at the same time and the campaign becomes therefore more profitable.
However, the auction models of meta searches, with their large number of providers each pursuing its own goals and strategies, are extremely dynamic. A permanent, precise observation of the bidding process as well as expertise are therefore essential.
What’s important in the end:
Today we live in the digital age and today's traveler is digital, searching and booking his or her accommodations mainly online - so become part of the meta-search world and do not miss your direct bookings.