A New Perspective on OTAs & Metasearch Engines

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Melody Ciria
Melody Ciria
December 12, 2013
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Today, travelers are much savvier when it comes to finding the best airline and hotel deals online.  As the online world has evolved so has the modern day traveler.  We are beginning to see more and more travelers utilizing different channels to find the lowest-cost airline and hotel rates.  Travelers are no longer just Googling “cheapest airline flights” or “best hotel deals” on Google but instead more travelers are using platforms like OTAs (Expedia and Priceline), TripAdvisor and metasearch engines like Trivago, Kayak, and Hipmunk to plan their entire vacation from transportation to lodging.  For many travelers, booking a hotel or flight has become a race to find a bargain.  Metasearch engines and review sites like TripAdvisor are reliable sources for travelers planning a trip because it takes out the stress and hassle out of travel planning.  These channels provide travelers with one-stop shop experience that enables them to find everything they need to know to make a decision.  Travelers can get information like rates, reviews, and special offers and promotions straight off these channels without having to navigate elsewhere. Many travelers prefer to use these channels because of its convenience, reliability, and the informative data revealed from searches.

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What these channels all have in common is its ability to showcase price comparisons from various sources like Booking.com and Priceline, which essentially makes it much easier for the potential guest to make a decision based on the current rates of each OTA displayed.  This can be seen as a threat for many independent hotels because it decreases direct bookings.  However, instead of sitting back and allowing this to happen, hoteliers should take this threat as an opportunity to work with these OTAs and metasearch engines.  Don’t allow these other channels to benefit from all the potential revenue generated.These channels will only become even more utilized in the coming years, so it is critical for your hotel’s website to connect to these metasearch websites and even OTAs.  Sure you may have to pay commission to participate in these channels, but hotels cannot afford to miss out on the potential traffic and bookings generated from these platforms.

Hotels will have more to gain from connecting with these websites than merely letting these third party channels steal away bookings from your hotel’s official website.There are several steps to take before embarking fully on these third party channels.  If your hotel is currently maintaining rate parity then participating in these third party channels would not make any sense for you.  If your hotel is in rate parity, that means no matter which channel your guests decide to book from; the rates will be the same.  With that said, hotels not in rate parity must agree to display the lowest rate possible on their hotel website to capture the majority of bookings on these metasearch websites.  When controlling your hotel’s rates make sure to always keep it cost-effective for your hotel.  Don’t compromise your hotel’s profitability for the sake of displaying the lowest rates if it is not cost-effective.  If your hotel is considering connecting to these comparison websites then, make sure you have someone constantly managing these channels.

Photo courtesy of tnooz

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