Using Metasearch for Hotels to Drive Direct Bookings and Reduce Reliance on OTAs

Pair metasearch with your multichannel strategies to drive direct bookings.

Ashley Proceviat
February 22, 2023

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. 

What is metasearch and where does it fit in my marketing strategy?

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.

Where do metasearch campaigns appear?

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.

What makes up a metasearch advertisement?

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.

How do I set the right goals for my metasearch campaign?

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.

How important is finding the right metasearch partner?

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. 

When you’re ready to dive into all things metasearch, check out our eBook, Sojern’s Complete Guide to Hotel Metasearch, or connect with our team of travel experts to learn more.

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