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After an eye-opening conversation about metasearch engines with Quentin Lederer, a specialist in the field and COO of WIHP Hotels, I decided to share his advice with you.
Metasearch is a crucial hospitality 2.0 topic that all hotel managers must understand and use. But they must be used intelligently. Lots of data and many indicators are at play in price comparators, and you need to understand them to get the best results.
Let’s take a look and analyze the key points so that you can increase your direct bookings and boost sales.
Metasearch: definition and contextualization
Let’s start with a simple definition.
Metasearch is about search engines that gather information from other, more general search engines. In the hotel business, we find them in form of price comparators. You’re familiar with most of them already, such as Kayak, Trivago, Google Hotel Ads, and Skyscanner, but there are many others out there.
Metasearch helps you find the best price when you’re trying to reserve a hotel room.
Usually charging on a CPC (Cost Per Click) basis, a metasearch engine is an efficient and flexible marketing tool that allows hotels to accept bookings directly on their site, avoiding the commission costs charged by OTAs. When a reservation is made via Booking.com, for example, it costs the hotel an average of 20%. This is a hefty commission that you want to avoid so that you can increase your margins.
Now let’s get down to business and talk strategy.
Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s talk about what you probably care about most: the best strategy to adopt with metasearch. Although managing Google Hotel Ads is not the same as working with Trivago, there are some common recommended practices.
Optimize your booking engine
This one goes without saying, but let’s take a quick moment to talk about it. Before you even think about accepting direct bookings on your hotel’s website, you need to make sure that your booking engine is absolutely perfect. In other words, it should support mobile and tablet bookings, it must be easy to use, and your users shouldn’t encounter any problems at all. Although metasearch does most of the heaving lifting when it comes to bringing in sales, remember that your booking engine is the last page the user will see before making a decision. This means that the user experience must be optimal.
Getting set up on metasearch
If you’re not already working with metasearch, you should be aware that you’ll need to use an integration partner who specializes in the field in order to set up your hotel with price comparators.
Display a fair price
It doesn’t take a genius to know that you should always display your lowest price when using metasearch. Users go to TripAdvisor or Kayak because they want to save money, so that’s most important factor for them.
Focus on CPC and visibility rate
As mentioned earlier, most metasearch engines use a cost-per-click payment system. This means that every time a user clicks your proposed rate to reach your site, there is a cost involved for your hotel. You can also change this CPC at any time.
There is also an impression rate, also known as the visibility rate. This is the number of times your offer appears when a user types the name of your hotel. For example, Google Hotel Ads shows only four proposed rates by default when you search for a hotel by name. The higher the chosen CPC, the higher you will appear in the results.
Obviously, your goal is to be visible 100% of the time for the lowest possible CPC. This is an important metric for Google, but it is also found in all other metasearch engines.
Let me give you an example:
You decide to set your CPC to €1 on the first day. The next day, you notice that your impression rate is only 70%. This means that you need to increase your CPC if you want to be visible 100% of the time. On the other hand, if you start with 100% visibility right away, it may be that your CPC is too high. You can then try to lower your CPC to find the best balance between your visibility rate and CPC.
It is not necessary to be listed first in the results that are shown by default! The user is looking for the best price, more than anything. All that matters is that you are 100% visible and have a lower price than the others.
Don’t go crazy
At first, it is tempting to sign up with all the metasearch engines. The most important ones are Google Hotel Ads, TripAdvisor, and Trivago, but don’t limit yourself to just these ones.It would be a mistake to neglect Kayak, Bing Hotel Ads, or Skyscanner. These metasearch attract a different clientele that you want to be sure to reach.
Metasearch engines and CPA
Today, only Google Hotel Ads and Trivago offer a payment system other than CPC: CPA (Cost Per Acquisition). With CPA, you are charged only when a reservation is made, similar to how an OTA works. The advantage is that the prices are adjustable and that, on average, we are talking about less than 10% of costs, compared to 20% for OTAs. While this is less attractive than a highly optimized CPC strategy, it has the benefit of being safer and simpler to monitor. Quentin recommends starting with a CPA set at 3-4% and increasing it, if necessary, to achieve an optimal impression rate of 100%. This follows the same logic mentioned earlier for the CPC.
The CPA strategy is commonly used in two scenarios. The first is a small hotel that does not necessarily have the budget to hire an agency to manage its metasearch engine campaigns. The second is when the ROAS (Return On Ad Spend) of a launched CPC strategy falls below expectations. If your CPC strategy becomes more expensive than a CPA-based strategy, you can switch to CPA for an assured return on investment.
Metasearch is not the enemy of OTAs.
I might have come across as a bit harsh on OTAs, but that’s not my intention. It’s just that it is very important to get direct bookings. Not working with OTAs would be very damaging for your business, so don’t even consider that!You have to learn to work with both so that you can get the most out of both of these fantastic marketing tools.
During our conversation, Quentin told me this:
“If the goal is to bring in more direct bookings, the metasearch strategy is crucial. It’s not even a nice-to-have. It’s a must! »
Metasearch is indispensable and constantly changing. Currently, you have to type the hotel name for your offer to appear. Perhaps, in the future, it may be possible to appear with certain keywords, such as “Paris hotel”.
That’s why it’s crucial to learn how to use these tools so that you can be prepared for the added efficiency they will offer in the future. I highly recommend that you work with a trusted partner who can guide you through the setup process, step by step.
Thanks for your attention!