How Metasearch Marketing Can Help Your Hotel

by Pete DiMaio

In the realm of boosting direct bookings, numerous hotels find themselves constrained by a finite set of strategies. While hotel marketing tools such as organic content, social media posts, and email campaigns contribute to generating interest in a property, they fall short in pinpointing the precise moment when a potential guest is prepared to make a reservation. 

And while paid search options like Google Ads and Microsoft Ads can yield impressive outcomes, they still lack the capability to dynamically integrate a hotel’s rates into the travelers’ decision-making process.

This is where hotel metasearch becomes so important, particularly for independent hoteliers.

The Importance of Hotel Metasearch Engines

Google search results for Myrtle Beach hotels.

According to a study by EyeForTravel, 94% of travelers use metasearch sites regularly when planning a vacation. In a vast majority of cases, the traveler is not going to realize they are using a metasearch engine, they simply know they are seeing the rates for the days they are looking for at the property they have shown interest. This data appears as if it is organic search content and is very highly trusted and engaged.

The adjacent search results page for “Myrtle Beach hotels” shows a typical destination result where you have at least one paid position at the top, a significant metasearch presence in the center, and organic results below the fold (followed by more paid ads).

What many hoteliers may not know is regardless if you (as the property manager) are participating in a metasearch campaign, you are already showing up with a rate. The OTAs are aggressively bidding and displaying a nightly rate for your property. This is why we recommend every property have an aggressive metasearch strategy to ensure their best book-direct rate is showing in as many metasearch opportunities as possible, particularly Google Hotel Ads. 

It’s very similar to bidding on brand terms for your hotel PPC campaigns and should be a standard part of your overall marketing efforts. If you’re not participating, someone else will take your spot on the SERP and steal a potential booking (see screenshot below). One thing in these two images is abundantly clear, an organic strategy alone is not enough in today’s SERP landscape.

Google search results for Breakers Resort.

The above only accounts for one fraction of the space that metasearch systems encompass. Beyond Google Hotel Ads (GHA) you have several major players:

  • TripAdvisor
  • Microsoft Hotel Ads
  • Kayak
  • Trivago
  • Hundreds of niche engines…

A savvy hotelier will understand that they must have a presence on as many metasearch engines as possible to maximize direct bookings. If not, they would be seceding ground to the OTAs and giving up easy direct bookings.

Why does metasearch matter for independent hoteliers? Simple – if you’re not owning your space in meta, you’re giving guaranteed bookings right to the OTAs, costing you money, guest relationships, and future revenue opportunities.

Your Guide to Hotel Metasearch Management

Now that we know how critical it is to participate in the metasearch space, hoteliers must ensure they “can” participate. This will largely depend on your booking engine and PMS provider and the level of management access available to you.

Does Your Hotel’s PMS or Booking Engine Have The Ability to Integrate Metasearch?

Most likely, nearly universally, your hotel’s PMS or booking engine will have the “ability” to feed data to metasearch engines. If you already have some form of channel manager or GDS, the ability to share rates is possible. At TravelBoom, we’ve found that proactive management is rarely shared with independent hoteliers, at least in an easy way.

If your system does offer a metasearch integration, there is likely a fee for the service. This is justified since there is a cost for managing, testing, and ensuring the rates are working properly. Once a property has determined the ability to feed rates, they are ready to proceed to the next step.

Google Hotel Ads (GHA) & Microsoft Hotel Price Ads (HPA) Best Practices

Google hotel ads booking module.

Both Google and Microsoft offer paid and organic rate displays in their metasearch platforms, however in both cases the organic results will appear farther down the page, or behind an additional click. The example here shows a property bidding on their profile through Google Hotel Ads and appearing with an organic rate.

As a hotelier, remember a few tips when managing your campaign(s):

  • Ensure you have claimed your business listings and set up your accounts. For Google, you’ll use your Business Profile Manager. Here are a few simple tips for claiming and optimizing your hotel’s GMB listing.
  • Make sure you have a stable rate feed and your price accuracy is high.
  • Confirm the rate you’re sharing is the best possible rate (no matter how great of a campaign you run, guests won’t book direct if it’s cheaper to book on an OTA).
  • Review your bid management rules and settings (this is the meat of the campaign). Set your bids and limitations to target the right potential guests at the right time.
  • Managing a GHA campaign is complex — this article is just a summary. Contact us at TravelBoom for a more comprehensive discussion on managing metasearch for your hotel.

TripAdvisor Metasearch Campaign Management

Hotel profile with metasearch rates on Tripadvisor.

TripAdvisor is the second most critical metasearch engine for any hotelier. While many claim its value has been in decline, the image to the right is a perfect example of why managing your hotel’s metasearch campaign on TripAdvisor is mandatory.

Say a potential guest has chosen your property and is at the booking stage. They visit TripAdvisor one last time to read any recent reviews of your hotel. When they head to book the room, however, your property’s direct booking link is not shown.

Tripadvisor sponsored placements channel.

As a best practice, it is imperative to bid for the top three positions on TripAdvisor displaying your lowest rate possible. If not, all the work to brand your property and inspire a direct conversion is lost, and one of these three OTAs will earn the booking. 

TripAdvisor’s bidding goes beyond just the rate displayed on a hotel’s individual profile, it extends into the broader destination searches as well. The example here shows the Grande Cayman Resort promoting their direct booking rate in the TripAdvisor search. This means when a guest is ready to book, they’re going to be booking direct.

Ready to manage your TripAdvisor metasearch campaign? Consider these tips first:

  • Just like with Google, make sure your profiles are claimed and your accounts are set up properly.
  • Don’t get fooled into always bidding for the #1 position. We have found that the conversion rates for positions 1 to 3 are not all that different, but the cost difference can be extraordinary. As long as your property has the best rate in the top 3, you’ll get the conversion.
  • TripAdvisor’s reporting can be a bit clunky, but they do offer great insights into rate display and performance — take advantage of these tools.
  • Again, this list of tips is just a summary. Contact TravelBoom for a FREE digital marketing evaluation or enjoy some of our other articles about hotel marketing.

More Hotel Metasearch Engines

Kayak hotel metasearch engine.

Kayak, Trivago, and dozens of other niche metasearch engines account for a sizable portion of the metasearch space and shouldn’t be forgotten in your marketing strategies. Just like with any metasearch engine, if you’re not there with your best book-direct rate, you’re giving a free booking to the OTAs.

Hoteliers can start by reviewing guest history data and determine which metasearch engines are delivering the most bookings and start their metasearch campaigns on them, one by one.

Managing each metasearch engine individually can be time-consuming and tedious, but TravelBoom’s metasearch program makes life easier by offering full campaign management of any metasearch platform desired. Regardless of how you decide to tackle your metasearch exposure, make it a priority moving forward.

TravelBoom’s Comprehensive Hotel Metasearch Management Service

In the past, metasearch could be very complex, time-consuming, and expensive. Through TravelBoom’s partnerships, we’ve been able to create an easy solution for nearly all hotels. We’ll help you fully take advantage of metasearch with a straightforward pricing structure and an ROAS that rivals many other digital marketing channels.

TravelBoom takes the guesswork out of metasearch management. Our ROAS-focused program will not only suppress the OTAs’ exposure but also drive significant direct bookings.

What makes TravelBoom’s program different is we use a blended budget and advanced systems to optimize exposure creating the highest possible return on investment.

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