What Is Hotel Metasearch and How Does it Work?

Begin to understand metasearch and why it’s key to direct bookings.

July 21, 2022

If you want a strategy that maximizes your direct bookings and reduces your reliance on OTAs, metasearch is one of the most crucial channels for success. But, for such an important channel, it is one of the most technically complex and misunderstood. 

Today, we are kicking off a four-part blog series on all things metasearch—what it is, why it’s key to direct bookings, and setting yourself up for success if you are interested in or just getting started on this important channel.

What is a Metasearch Website?

Metasearch websites consolidate rates from multiple booking channels, such as hotel websites, wholesalers, and OTAs. Through metasearch websites, travelers can search for real-time hotel room prices and availability in a single view. Unlike other marketing channels, metasearch uses live rates with a path to purchase that leads directly to the hotel website.

The most well-known metasearch websites include Trivago, Kayak, Tripadvisor, Google Hotel Ads, and Bing. In fact, these sites account for the vast majority—85%—of all metasearch traffic. 

How Does Metasearch Work?

This is the part that is a bit technical. To bid on metasearch sites, advertisers need to provide dynamic rates and availability to match current pricing. This requires integration both with your booking engine and the various metasearch engines. Each metasearch engine has its own pricing, ranking, and bidding logic, and each displays your ad in a slightly different format. These factors add more complexity to managing these campaigns. As just one example of what a metasearch ad could look like, these core elements tend to be the same across metasearch engines.

While the official site does feature at the top of this listing, you can see prominent OTAs appear as well. Just like with Search Engine Marketing (SEM), OTAs actively bid on your property to win the booking. In the example above, if that hotel was not doing metasearch, one of the OTA listings would have taken the top spot. That’s why having your own dedicated metasearch presence is so important.

Where is Metasearch Most Effective in the Traveler Path to Purchase?

Metasearch is a mid-to-low funnel marketing tactic. As travelers narrow their preferences and move from the planning to booking stages, metasearch ads influence them to book directly in the final stretch.

Looking to learn more about metasearch? Check out Sojern’s Complete Guide to Hotel Metasearch for our comprehensive look at this important channel.

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