Hotel metasearch has existed for over 20 years now (SideStep, acquired by Kayak), but has been elevated in importance ever since Google launched its Google Hotel Finder product back in 2010, which later became Google Hotel Ads (GHA).
For many years metasearch players used predominantly the CPC (Cost-per-Click) model (Trivago, TripAdvisor, GHA, etc.). Nowadays, most metasearch players use the CPA (Cost-per-Acquisition) model i.e. charge a fee in the form of a commission when a booking is done.
Last year, responding to the travel slump due to the pandemic, Google introduced its Pay-per-stay (PPS) model i.e. Google charges a fee in the form of a commission only if the booker actually stays at the property. Earlier this year Google even resorted to its masterful freemium model and offered hotels free booking link listings in GHA to lure more hotels into its metasearch program. By flooding each destination with booking options, Google is forcing hotels, OTAs and other booking sites to compete for visibility I.e. opt for the PPS premium listings.
The question is: Has hotel metasearch become a distribution channel that needs to be managed by the revenue management team like all commission-based channels like OTA, GDS, etc. or should remain as part of the marketing team's toolset?
I contest the reference to the word 'becoming'. It has always been a distribution channel. To that end, I would also contest the designation that it be regulated solely by revenue management. If anything we have learned (at an accelerated pace due to the pandemic). Is the need to end the continuance of defining the difference between Marketing and Revenue Management. A simple example, without a combined strategy of paid campaigns on the same said platform (Google) how would marketing know if it is competing 'within itself' when unaware of a Metasearch campaign being run by a siloed revenue management team? And visa versa. Rate offers, campaign offers, packages, etc., need to be mutually aligned by these symbiotic departments in a collaborative strategy and shared vernacular of KPIs and goals.