Use Metasearch for Hotels to Drive Direct Bookings and Reduce Reliance on OTAs
Pair metasearch with your multichannel strategies to drive direct bookings.
Hotels everywhere are battling for direct bookings. Direct bookings not only drive profit, they allow hoteliers to collect data about their guests to deliver a personalized experience. Many travel marketers are deploying multichannel marketing campaigns to increase direct bookings, but research shows that more than half of bookings still come from OTAs. The best way to increase direct bookings is to pair metasearch with your existing multichannel campaigns to increase visibility. With an average conversion rate of 4.5%, metasearch is higher than any marketing channel, which means every hotel should be using it.
Here’s everything you need to know about metasearch.
Metasearch consolidates hotel rates from multiple booking channels, such as hotel websites, wholesalers, and OTAs, and displays them on a single page. Kayak, TripAdvisor, and Google Hotel Ads are just a few of the popular metasearch engines. Travelers can visit the website and search for real-time hotel room prices. Unlike search engine marketing (SEM), display, or social ads, users simply enter the dates of their trip on the website and it populates the results. Results, which include live rates, are shown in a single view, allowing travelers to compare deals or rates and then book.
Metasearch sites are different from OTAs, because they direct travelers to your hotel website to finish the booking process. And with any direct booking, your hotel has access to the customer data and information, making it much easier to own the customer relationship and build repeat bookings and loyalty over time. It also means that metasearch channels won’t be disrupted when Google phases out third-party cookies.
Metasearch is a mid-to-low funnel tactic that is typically deployed as part of a comprehensive multichannel marketing strategy. There’s a bias to drive direct traffic, which means metasearch gives your property greater exposure than the OTAs to encourage a direct booking. At Sojern, we bid on behalf of your hotel so the traveler clicks on your property’s listing. With high conversion rates, metasearch is a great way to shift share away from OTAs because it catches travelers when they are actively moving from the planning to the booking phase.
There are two main website categories where metasearch campaigns appear. Classic metasearch websites, such as TripAdvisor, Trivago, Wego, or Skyscanner invest millions of dollars in advertising to make sure they’re top of mind when travelers want to book. Hotel ads can appear in hotel results listings or in more general destination listings. General search engines, such as Google and Bing, integrate metasearch into the results page when users search for a hotel. Ad placements are visible in the results or, in Google’s case, in Google Maps.
Metasearch ads are simple for hoteliers because there’s no creative required. Travelers enter their stay dates into the search bar along with any other information they want to provide. Search results show a list of advertisers offering a particular hotel room with real-time pricing. Travelers see dynamic rates and room availability from a variety of sources, including direct websites and OTAs.
Getting started with metasearch is one of the best decisions you can make to increase direct bookings. You can set yourself up for success by defining and setting realistic goals about expected volume. For example, if you currently receive 5% of bookings directly, a realistic goal might be to grow to 7%. From there you can benchmark your performance against your spending. Typical metasearch results range between 7-9x return on ad spend.
Once you set your goals you can then assign your budget. You can estimate your monthly revenue based on expected volume and performance, and an average daily rate. Remember, rate parity is key, so you must show the same customer-facing rate across distribution channels, including OTAs and third parties. Finally, by showing your best available rate (BAR) first on your own page, you can be sure that you aren’t showing higher rates than your competitors, which will incentivize travelers to book elsewhere.
Finding the right partner is a key part of a successful metasearch campaign. There are several criteria you can look for when choosing your metasearch partner. A good metasearch partner, like Sojern, is a digital marketing expert that actively manages your campaign. We optimize campaigns based on traveler intent signals to reach your potential guests at the right time—which will ultimately increase your direct bookings. We also provide real-time reporting metrics so you can see and understand exactly how your campaign is performing.
We also track performance across all channels to avoid duplicate conversion counting. If you’re running multiple marketing campaigns across channels with several partners, you might be paying several times for a single booking. We de-duplicate bookings to make sure you aren't paying double—or more—per booking.
Metasearch is one of the strongest marketing channels available for hotels, which means you should incorporate it into your marketing toolbox. By defining what’s important to you and finding the right partner, you can reach potential travelers and increase direct bookings.
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“With any product and service, you have to spend time and resources to grow your customer base. Sojern provides us with an extremely effective way to increase our direct bookings and maximize guest lifetime value. The platform delivers impressive results, achieved with minimal time and resources invested by the team. It's a great product and service that I never have to sell to ownership–the results speak for themselves. Sojern seamlessly integrates into our marketing distribution, freeing us up to focus on other initiatives. When a program performs this well, I know we're making the right marketing investments.”
“Sojern is the top performing conversion partner that we've run for travel specific activities. I would definitely recommend investigating how to work with Sojern to my agency peers with travel clients. Their team is really proactive, and very quick on everything we need. We value the great quality in terms of reports and support the team provides, and on top of that, we also see activities perform incredibly well. So clearly, there's a lot going on in the back end to make sure we're hitting and meeting all of Sandals’ KPIs.”
“We were seeking a partner that could help us increase our direct booking share and reach, as well as overcome seasonality challenges. We looked at Sojern, which was very well recommended, and I can definitely say we made the right choice. Working with Sojern is so easy and reliable and the entire process is incredibly smooth and straightforward. Since joining Sojern we consistently convert new guests looking to visit the Caribbean, regardless of seasonality.”
“Working with Sojern, it’s not just a cookie-cutter solution, as Sojern listens to our needs and recommends what’s best for our hotel. We have someone to bounce ideas off of, and Sojern gives us a higher-level perspective on how we can get the best value for our investment.”
“We love the simplicity of the solution and how clearly we can see results. The technology works so well that it leaves us to do our other day-to-day jobs. We are seeing increased interest in our superior and deluxe rooms as a result, which is improving the overall average booking value. I think we will be long-time customers for as long as Sojern continues to perform the way it does today!”
We’re ready to help you take the guesswork out of your digital marketing. Contact us to tap into the travel industry’s most intelligent marketing platform.