Since 2014, metasearch traffic has tripled. More recently, it has been suggested that metasearch advertising is one of the most important channels for hotels, allowing properties to amplify their book-direct strategies. If you aren’t familiar with metasearch channels, in a nutshell, they aggregate rates from a variety of sources and allow a user to compare a supplier’s room rates against those of many other channels. Koddi, a metasearch bid-automation platform, recently shared an excellent infographic to help answer the question “What is metasearch?”
If you are already well-versed in the metasearch landscape, you know that the space is becoming increasingly competitive. Today, many of the major players are prioritizing innovation and ramping up marketing spend to ensure they can solidify their spot in the future of the hotel-rate-comparison business. Take a look at what some of the biggest competitors are up to these days:
Google Hotel Ads Tests, Including Vacation Rentals
This summer, Google began testing, including vacation rentals in their Hotel Ads interface – a first and major milestone for the company. Traditionally, users could search for dates and see a variety of hotels, but never alternative lodging options. According to Skift, the test appears to include 7,000 property listings and is focused on European cities, including Barcelona, Paris and Rome.
Booking.com and Hotels.com (owned by Expedia) both have listings appearing in the test; notably, Airbnb and HomeAway are not present. Koddi President/Co-founder Nicholas Ward noted a few clear shortcomings of the current user experience, including the lack of filtering options, content and reviews for the vacation rentals. Even still, the test marks the monumental entrance of Google into the vacation-rental business, and the company certainly has the resources for further testing and development if there is demand.
(Image Source: Jacqueline Sharp, screen capture of Google Hotel Ads)
“Alexa, ask Kayak to book me a hotel room”
Conversational search queries are on the rise and, in May 2016, Google stated that 20% of mobile queries were voice searches. For the hotel industry, though, voice bookings were an untapped playing field until Kayak introduced the opportunity to book hotel rooms through Amazon’s Alexa, the persona of the Echo device, in June 2017. The new functionality can be used in two ways:
- You can share your destination and travel dates with Alexa, and she will recite the available hotels and their rates. When you hear one you like, you can request to book it.
- You already know where you’d like to stay and when, then you can ask Alexa for the rates and to complete the reservation.
Of course, for users who are interested in scouring many different sites to find the best rate, reading reviews and looking at photos, the Alexa experience will not be well-suited. Even still, the capability is the first for the industry, and will only get better and more advanced with time.
TripAdvisor Reacts to a Decrease in Advertising Spend
In July 2017, TripAdvisor experienced softer cost-per-click pricing on their hotel metasearch rate ads – a result of suppliers and OTAs spending less than in the past. Expedia and Priceline had traditionally been the company’s largest advertisers, contributing up to 46% of the annual revenue. But with the recent decrease in advertising spend, which is not particular to one region but rather experienced globally, TripAdvisor has taken action.
While it may be too early to tell if major OTAs pulling their money from TripAdvisor and directing it elsewhere will become a trend, the company has launched a series of television commercials to combat the lost revenue. Between July and September, TripAdvisor will spend over $35 million on the television spots, and will run the campaigns in the United States, Canada, France, Spain, the UK and Australia.
Trivago Urges Independent Hotels to Advertise Online
Trivago’s CEO Rolf Schrömgens recently shared that “Trivago now has access to 1.8 million properties sourced from more than 180 booking sites, more than 230 hotel chains and some 11,000 individual hotels.” While these numbers are impressive at first, it’s estimated that there are between 140,000 and 600,000 independent hotels globally, leaving a tremendous amount of properties outside of the Trivago landscape. Today, the majority of hotels on the platform are the major chains, while many independent hotels rely on OTAs to drive their businesses instead.
Trivago hopes that by continuing extensive television advertising, they will further achieve brand recognition, and as Schrömgens shares, “It’s hard to reach them [the independent hotels]. But this effort will help.” In addition to increased advertising, Trivago introduced Rate Insights in June 2017, a solution designed to help independent hoteliers access rate data and understand traveler search volume and fluctuations.