You must have heard the term Hotel Metasearch Engine used several times by now, as you navigate the vast hotel e-distribution arena. This term often raises many questions, fear even, with independent hoteliers that we speak to. Are these metasearch engines good for business? Are they going to take away from my direct bookings? Should I ask to be transferred to the vacant Head of Housekeeping position and just avoid it all together?
There’s nothing to be afraid of…it is easier to navigate than you think, and if used correctly, it can be a tool that is vital to driving direct bookings to your website. If I were asked to provide a very simple ‘Right vs Wrong’ strategy in dealing with these tools I would start by giving the following scenario:
Let’s imagine for a moment that you are interviewing two candidates for a Sales and/or Revenue position at your hotel. One question that I would for sure ask is “What is your strategy going to be to put heads in beds in our hotel?’’
Answer from candidate 1: ‘’I am going to give every OTA and metasearch site on the planet our rates and inventory. Boom… when am I hired?’’
Answer from candidate 2: ‘’I would implement a strategy that pushes bookings to our website by carefully selecting our OTA participation and taking advantage of metasearch sites to market our hotel as opposed to just offering rates and inventory.’’
My advice is to recommend that candidate 1 apply for a position at your competition across the street and that you take a much closer look at candidate 2.
A metasearch site (ie Tripadvisor) is a website that gathers content from other websites like Google and OTA’s and then consolidates that data into one location. This allows the booking guest to get hotel information, reviews and rate comparisons through a single source. The goal is to provide the booker with all the information he or she needs to make an informed purchase decision through one website.
Candidate 1 from our job interview is going to have you listed on these metasearch sites in about 30 day’s time. He or she will spend about 30 minutes each morning setting the rate for the day then who knows what for the rest of the day. This strategy can indeed put heads in beds but it comes at a steep price because of the commissions you will be paying out on your bookings.
Candidate 2 is going to take a different approach. He or she is going hand pick the right OTA and metasearch opportunities for your hotel. He or she will recommend that you spend a minimum amount of marketing dollars to ensure that booking guests see your website as a prominent booking option through a site like Tripadvisor. This strategy is of far greater value to your hotel because it promotes your brand, it promotes loyalty from guests and the cost of taking bookings via your hotel website is far less expensive than through OTA’s.
I have touched on a very basic strategy here in a way that I hope you can relate to. Is it more complicated than this? The answer is ‘yes’. There are other important factors to consider in your metasearch strategy like rate parity, good & bad advertising opportunities and PPC.
However if you have the right e-distribution partner they can easily help you navigate this arena. If they can’t help you, give ResNet World a call.