Metasearch OTA Channels - The Who, What, Why and How of the Newest (and Potentially, Most Lucrative) Online Distribution Channel
Online travel agencies (OTAs) are a vital part of the supply chain and have been largely responsible for the rapid growth in online travel bookings across both mature and emerging markets. While the online channel has been a beneficial one for hotels, it has also placed a strain on budgets due to increased distribution costs (caused by high OTA commissions).
hotels' distribution costs, without negatively effecting occupancy. Some have been successful (others not so successful), but one that has seen a great deal of success recently is the metasearch channels.
In an attempt to illustrate the opportunities that metasearch channels present forhoteliers, we spoke with Mike Ford, CEO of SiteMinder:
What are metasearch OTAs?
MF: Metasearch OTAs aggregate room rates from multiple onlinechannels and display them to the consumer in a single list – making it faster and easier for consumers to find and compare hotels and pricing options.
Which are the most popular metasearch channels?
MF: Some of the popular sites include Google Hotel Finder, Trivago(Priceline) and Kayak (Expedia). Earlier this year, TripAdvisor also introduced a metasearch engine and more recently, TripConnect, the company's new advertising bidding tool. TripConnect enables hotels to place bids in TripAdvisor auctions to help drive direct bookings to their own website.
In your opinion, why are metasearch OTAs a business imperative for hoteliers?
MF: There will always be a first-mover advantage for early adoptersof new sales and distribution technologies. At the end of the day, whoever has the best ability to convert clicks to bookings – no matter the type of property, the number of rooms, geographical location, star rating or amenities offered - will be most profitable. As such, hotels that understand the importance of metasearch and that take action today to capitalize on it will stand out from the competition in the exact place where consumers are looking for and booking hotel rooms – online.
In your opinion, what is the most important benefit offered by TripConnect(over other metasearch OTAs)?
MF: Although metasearch was able to increase hotels' online visibilityand bookings, distribution costs remained too high for most properties to maintain over the long term. As such, it was mostly larger chains that participated (and profited) by investing in metasearch to drive bookings direct to their website. TripConnect combines the efficiency of metasearch with the cost effectiveness of the direct channel, enabling small hotel groups and independents (who may not have the large marketing budgets of the big chains) to take advantage of the opportunities presented by metasearch channels.
Do you have any tips for hoteliers on how best to implement metasearchchannels?
MF: Metasearch OTAs present both a huge opportunity and achallenge for a property's sales and marketing teams. Unlike traditional OTA channels, metasearch channels merge the digital marketing and distribution activities of a property, requiring these teams to work in harmony to achieve the best possible results.
Advanced distribution technology can go a long way to facilitate the transition toTripConnect (or other metasearch OTAs). Metasearch channel management requires best-in-class distribution connectivity using a single platform to manage the connectivity from PMS or CRS, the digital marketing "bid management" and booking fulfilment at the hotel's website.
Any final words?
MF: With the right mix of integrated technology, a cost-effectivecommercial model and a consistent ability to convert more direct business using metasearch channels (like TripConnect), hotels will experience a decrease in distribution costs and an increase in total revenues, yielding a higher profit margin for online transactions.
jlnpr for SiteMinder
As the leading cloud platform for hotels, SiteMinder allows hotels to attract, reach and convert guests across the globe. We serve hotels of all sizes with award-winning solutions for independents and groups alike, wherever they are in the world.
SiteMinder's products include The Channel Manager, the industry's leading online distribution platform; TheBookingButton, a wholly-branded booking engine for direct bookings via the web, mobile or social; Canvas, the intelligent website creator for independent hoteliers; Prophet, the real-time market intelligence solution that takes the guesswork out of pricing rooms; and GDS by SiteMinder, a single-point of entry to a six-figure network of travel agents and the world's major global distribution systems. With more than 26,000 hotel customers and 550 of the industry's top connectivity providers as our partners, today we have presence in more than 160 countries on six continents.
For more information, visit www.siteminder.com.