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How to Compete With Online Travel Agencies on Metasearch

Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) are often a love/hate relationship for hoteliers. We love to get bookings but hate to pay fees while not owning the guest. So, we aim to drive direct bookings in an effort to avoid some of that pain, and metasearch plays a critical role in this process. I hear many hoteliers say “I cannot compete with the deep pockets of the OTAs to win bids!” Well, I am here to tell you this is simply not true! Here are a few reasons why:
  1. OTAs are marketing for every hotel in your market. You are just marketing for YOUR hotel.
  1. Because of the former, OTAs will base everything on scale, and follow a typical 80/20 rule where 80% of business comes from 20% of the hotels. That means that most hotel metasearch campaigns in your market are being run on autopilot by the OTAs. You can dance circles around them by being more nimble!
  1. Google Audience Profiles. Not to be confused, OTAs do have their own version of these, but they do not have YOURS. An audience profile is created when, for example, a guest visits your website but does not book a reservation. Now I can have Google track that user and bid more aggressively when they return. This has a slight increase on CPC, but a huge increase on conversion rates!
  1. Consumers prefer to book direct, so you already have an advantage, as long as it is easy for them to do so.
Hoteliers should think of metasearch in the same way they do their branded search engine marketing. We strive to own our branded keywords, but often ignore the fact that our same competitors are owning the points of sale within our metasearch ads. Many of the same tools and practices used to optimize SEM are transferrable to your Google metasearch campaigns

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