Metasearch auctions give hotels a chance to compete with OTAs for your high-value customers. But there are also other opportunities in it for brand-savvy hoteliers. Joe Pettigrew, Director of Revenue Maximization Europe Hotels at Starwood Capital Group, believes that evolved features on metasearch sites allow hotels to have better control over their content than five years ago.
In our end-of-year publication on the past, present and future of hotel metasearch, we asked Joe about the importance of brand equity for hotels on metasearch sites. He also gave us his top advice about meta budget allocation and shared his views on the future of hotel metasearch.
Director of Revenue Maximization, Europe Hotels
Starwood Capital Group
When we speak about hotel metasearch, we tend to think about budgets and auctions. What other new horizons do metasearch sites open for hotel brands?
Metasearch is a great channel for the OTAs to raise their brand awareness. For hotels, it’s an opportunity to present the benefits of booking directly with the hotel to potential guests who are more likely already aware of your brand.
It's not uncommon to see over 70% of traffic hotels receive via meta being new users. So it’s important to be there.
Today’s guests shopping on meta aren’t just comparing prices. They’re also comparing perks and incentives for booking with a reputable company they feel will remove all anxiety from getting exactly what they want at the best value possible.
For hotels, that means making sure the booking engine is safe, secure, offers the necessary information in an engaging way, and most importantly, offer a differentiated booking experience on the website. Hotels need to think beyond rate parity and offer to guests the all-important value parity.
In what ways could metasearch sites improve to meet hoteliers’ needs?
I would like to see metasearch sites improve their relationship with hotels. Participating in meta is not as easy or straightforward as it is to sign up to an OTA. It’s not uncommon to have to involve multiple parties, such as the CRS, a 3rd party connectivity partner, and a performance media agency, to connect to meta. Once they democratize the connectivity by making it easy to connect and manage campaigns for the independent hotels, I think that will be a win-win for both the meta and hotels.
What advice about meta budget allocation can you give to hoteliers?
I suggest hotels prioritize their performance marketing budget by high to low impact on 3 levels of share penetration:
Think about all the active campaigns you're running that are designed to increase your channel share. Prioritize meta by channel in your current campaign structure. You are always better off doubling down on channels that give you the best results than spreading your budget thin across all channels!
Based on your insights, could you predict for what will happen in hotel metasearch in 2019?
Google will continue to grow its dominance in the metaspace as it continuously tests different ways to make travel more engaging on their search platforms, particularly on mobile and voice.
I also think if Amazon finally makes an entry to travel, it will be with a hybrid of metasearch and OTA where different agents and hotels compete for the best rate & inventory on Amazon. Similar to Book on Google or Tripadvisor’s Instant Booking. This is the only way I can see Alexa natively supporting travel bookings in the future.
To find out more about the current state of hotel metasearch and hear the top meta advice from the industry's leaders from TripAdvisor, Skyscanner and Direct Booking IQ, download our exclusive whitepaper today for free!