Is hotel metasearch a distribution or advertising channel?
— 9 experts shared their view
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?
Yes - the metasearch segment should be considered a distribution channel to be managed by the revenue team, which should include the online marketing function. For hotels still organised in a fragmented and inefficient manner where marketing and revenue functions aren't integrated, there is likely to be some confusion as to how this channel should be optimised.