Meta search in travel and hospitality has been around since the early 2000s. One of the earliest examples was Sidestep.com, now part of Kayak.com, which was acquired by Priceline earlier this year. In Europe, one such example is Trivago.com. WeGo.com is one such example in Asia Pacific.

Meta search marketing in hospitality is online advertising that requires real-time room availability and pricing feed. This new “hybrid” digital marketing format, the result of the convergence of hotel online distribution and online advertising, requires:

  • Real-time hotel inventory availability + pricing
  • Marketing campaign, budget and bid management by property

Meta search marketing is already branching out beyond the typical rate comparison sites. Google Dynamic Text Retargeting Ads are one such example, available only to properties participating in the Google Hotel Finder meta search program. Based on the meta search marketing concept, here at HeBS Digital we are already working on several game-changing “hybrid” digital marketing initiatives, utilizing real-time hotel inventory availability and pricing fees, such as Dynamic Rate Google AdWords and display advertising with real-time pricing, email marketing with dynamic rates, hotel desktop and mobile site dynamic rate promotions, etc.

Meta Search Popularity is Exploding

Today we are witnessing an explosion of meta search travel sites and features, facilitated by advancements in digital technology and advertisers’ perceptions of these sites as “unbiased” online media players compared to the OTAs.

The most popular meta search sites and features in the hospitality and travel space include:

  • Google Hotel Finder (HPA pricing drop-downs): Google Hotel Finder beta, Google Maps, Google search engine results pages (SERPs), etc.
  • TripAdvisor Meta Search
  • Kayak.com
  • Trivago.com (Europe)
  • WeGo.com (Asia Pacific)

The value proposition to travel consumers is undeniable: by adding real-time availability and pricing and enabling rate shopping, travel planners are now provided with everything they need to research and book their hotel stay.

Let’s take Google for example. Google provides:

  • Hotel Location: The best mapping service on the web
  • Hotel Information: There is more information about any hotel, its location, destination, local attractions, etc. than anyone could possibly read in a lifetime
  • Customer reviews: Google provides Zagat’s Reviews plus a summary of reviews from all reviewing sites, including TripAdvisor
  • Real Time Availability and Rate Comparison: With Google Hotel Finder, Google has “closed the loop” and now provides 360-degree hotel stay research with easy planning and booking

TripAdvisor now provides a similar experience with its meta search program, and Kayak.com and Trivago are close behind. The main question is: Why would any online travel consumer want to go to an OTA website when they can get all of the above on Google, TripAdvisor, etc.?

Read more at HeBS Digital

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