Metasearch has revolutionised the travel industry in ways no one could really have predicted. In fact, it’s early incarnations were a key part of the rapid demise of the ‘brick and mortar’ travel agent as a one-stop booking shops. Yet it can seem like an imitating- or maybe even inaccessible- tool for the average travel business to master. Today Zebra 360 Digital Marketing is here to knock down the walls and help you make the best out of Metasearch for your business.
What on earth is Metasearch?
Metasearch engines are simply the middlemen of the online travel marketing arena. It’s the websites which amalgamate all different pricings, flights and offerings from a range of providers and search engines, and produce search results for the end consumer. In the travel industry, these ‘one-stop answer’ sites facilitate cost comparison among flights, hotel rooms and much more, allowing customers to self-book according to their departure dates, needs and requirements. Metasearch isn’t a search engine itself (like Google is), but rather a platform that aggregates the information from other search engines in one placebased on stated criteria from the user.
Why did Metasearch grip the travel industry so hard?
Planning travel is a surprisingly intricate task. It relies on flights, accommodation, transport, venues, entertainment and so much more all being properly coordinated before departure if the trip is to come together as a cohesive, enjoyable whole. While it’s certainly doable, booking each and every part of a trip manually is tedious.
Now imagine you could plug some basic parameters about what you need, your budget, the reason for travel and other key aspects into a single place, and get a bunch of filtered results (however roughly) that fit those parameters. No laborious searching, no scanning for keywords- just relevant data on hand in a button click.
Add to that the fact that these platforms offer fantastic ways for travel companies to boost their marketing and promotional efforts. Discounts, seasonal pricing, specials and more, as well as reviews, are all centralised around the results the prospective traveller received. Again, all the information the traveller could want to make meaningful choices, centralised and served up in a way that’s relevant to them. It’s not so surprising Metasearch has come to dominate the industry, after all!
So, why do I need to be listed on Metasearch engines if I’m in the travel industry?
If clients don’t find you, they’ll never know about your great deals. It’s really that simple. Many end customers will use Metasearch as a method to find service providers that meet their budget and service their needs, and not waste their precious time sorting through individual search results to find you. If you’re not on there, you’re losing a customer. Even where customers ultimately research providers and destinations further, it’s often based on an earlier Metasearch.
That makes it seem like a gloomier tool then it really is, however. Metasearch allows potential travellers to put smart research into their trips without ridiculous effort. This means they can also act as a great ‘leveller’, giving your smaller travel business the same exposure and space as the biggest industry giant. They can compare your products easily with others, making it a great way to open dialogue with new customers and attract them to your product as well as your sales funnel. Direct bookings can make their way to you more easily. New clients can even be pulled into your marketing stable by choosing to interact with you, giving you the opportunity to close the deal.
In a saturated market, Metasearch can help you get a foot in the door that otherwise would never exist. Provided you have a winning Metasearch strategy in place for your hotel or travel service, Metasearch can serve you well indeed.
The state of the Metasearch platforms
With Metasearch booming in the travel industry, it’s probably no surprise that global giant Google has hopped aboard the train with Google Hotel Ads, placing them in direct competition with Tripadvisor and other known faces. How the platform will fare will be interesting to see.
Three top tips to succeed at Metasearch advertising
Of course, it’s never just as simple as putting your information out there and hoping for the best. As with other marketing tools, you need a smart strategy to get the most out of Metasearch.
- It’s critically important you actually ARE listed with Metasearch sites. If your brand’s not out there, there’s no value being driven. But you don’t want to spend money witlessly, either. Obviously, guests who come to you directly are always going to be the ‘cheapest’ source for you, but you’ll likely need considerably more exposure then that to truly make a success of your business. Carefully balancing the cost of any Metasearch-style or Online Travel Agency bookings you engage with alongside the return they bring you is critical. Keep ROI at the forefront of your mind, and get to know if seasonal factors affect results- it can, for instance, benefit you to run Metasearch platforms more heavily in the low season than during peak periods where you are directly sought out.
- Reputation, reputation, reputation. Ratings on these platforms will affect almost everything about your experience there. How many reviews you get will matter, as well as how recently they will left. Of course, whether they are positive or negative has an effect too. Encouraging guests to leave positive reviews, and making the channels for them to do so as simples as possible, can help you to a greater success rate on these platforms.
- Staying competitive will help keep your favourably profiled, too. Of course, this aspect must be addressed with common sense- a budget 3-star hotel will be offering rates far below that of a boutique 5-star hotel, but they’re catering to completely different audiences. We live, however, in a global world, and knowing what your competitors are offering (and how it compares to your own products) is key if you are to succeed.
Managing Metasearch presence can seem intimidating at first, especially for smaller hotels and travel service providers. With the skilled knowledge of the Zebra 360 Digital Marketing specialists on your side, however, we’ll soon have the perfect Metasearch strategy for your needs ready to help boost your business.