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5 Hotel Metasearch Red Flags

Hoteliers are famously busy professionals and often live by the mantra, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." While this is just the reality as we're all forced to prioritize our days, we'd argue that addressing these common metasearch red flags could generate outsized and unexpected results in 2024. 


First off, the sheer size of the market. Several years ago, hospitality spending on metasearch marketing surpassed spending on Google paid search. More than 50% of total digital spend goes to metasearch channels, and for good reason. Those channels represent the middle and bottom of the demand funnel, so the returns on investment are substantial.  

In most cases, metasearch is the determining factor between winning and losing in your comp set!

Be that as it may, many hoteliers still believe all hotel metasearch providers are created equal. They adopt inertia as a strategy, pushing forward with their current provider because they don’t have a clear reason to consider a switch. 

So, what red flags should signal that it’s time to take a closer look at your metasearch provider? 

  1. Your metasearch budget is small and self-funded - Hotel metasearch is all about demand capture; demand for your market and your property. When demand exists, and your property isn’t present, those reservations go to OTA’s or, worse yet, your competitors. If you’ve allocated a small amount of media dollars to metasearch channels, you are, by definition, limiting your demand capture. In “Hacking your marketing budget” we outlined how a commission-based model, whereby your metasearch provider buys media on your behalf, is the best way to maximize revenue. You may feel like you have “checked the metasearch box” by signing up for an inexpensive connection with a small media budget, but chances are you are limiting your property’s revenue potential. 
  2. A lack of media-centric reporting - If your current hotel metasearch provider doesn’t offer a reporting portal rich with performance data, like impression share, you are missing an opportunity to truly optimize your metasearch advertising.  Worse, a lack of reporting is usually a red flag that your provider is managing metasearch as a “technology connection” and not as a true media channel.  Doing so strips metasearch of its fundamental advantages and virtually ensures that a property will underperform.
  3. OTA’s are saturating your metasearch listing - Take a look at your property listing on Google Hotels and Tripadvisor. The one constant - OTA’s. Expedia, Booking, and the like have increased their marketing spend on metasearch to ensure they are always in front of consumers as they research and book your hotel. They are fighting for your customers, and if you have a passive approach to metasearch marketing, they’re likely winning more often than not. Which leads to…
  4. More than 30% of your online revenue comes from OTA’s.  If you are ceding that much ground to OTA’s, metasearch is the first place to look.  A modern channel mix for most hotels should focus on generating well north of 60% of your revenue through direct channels.  This is all the more important with the emergence of First Party Data as a critical element to success.  Simply put, you must invest in channels that drive new, direct revenue.  
  5. Lack of new features and tools - In just the last year, major metasearch channels have launched new elements to their offering. These features make hotel metasearch one of the most dynamic channels available to hotels and resorts. If you have not reevaluated your metasearch marketing strategy or provider in the last year, you’ve fallen behind. These tools provide more refined targeting options, new messaging opportunities, and the ability to feature your property in the most advantageous ways possible. 


Why Metadesk?

Metadesk tackles these challenges and more. Unlike stale technology connections or companies that deploy passive media management, Metadesk features:

  • Media managed by hospitality media experts
  • Variable commission pricing - as metasearch revenue goes up, your commission percentage goes down
  • Custom audiences - intent-based, affinity, 1st party audiences; the key to driving overall performance
  • On-demand access to reports and campaign specialists
  • Real-time parity monitoring