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?

Simone Puorto
Simone Puorto
Founder | CEO | Futurist
Peter O’Connor
Peter O’Connor
Professor of Strategy at University of South Australia Business School
Linchi Kwok
Linchi Kwok
Professor at The Collins College of Hospitality Management

I am more inclined to see metasearch as a distribution channel because it has become more crucial in revenue generation. More consumers rely their purchasing decisions on searchable information on the internet. Google PPS has an advantage as it is connected to the world's most powerful and most used search engine. Consequently, hotels and OTAs are allocating more budgets towards metasearch. Most of all, the PPS model makes it easier for hotels to quantify the channel's cost for each stay, which is essential in revenue management. 

Loren Gray
Loren Gray
Founder of Hospitality Digital Marketing
Osvaldo Mauro
Osvaldo Mauro
Entrepreneur & Business Developer
Max Starkov
Max Starkov
Adjunct Professor NYU Tisch Center for Hospitality and Hospitality & Online Travel Tech Consultant
Charlie  Osmond
Charlie Osmond
Co-Founder & Chief Tease at Triptease
Ross McAlpine
Ross McAlpine
Vice President, Client Services at Vizergy
Erik Muñoz
Erik Muñoz
Chief Commercial Officer (CCO) at Lybra.tech

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.