Change is the only constant.
The travel industry has weathered many changes over the past several years, and we are constantly looking into our crystal ball to predict what will come tomorrow.
Technology innovations lead the way, and the repetitive themes include AI, Personalization, and of course, Google.
These three themes all have one common point of convergence, and that is Metasearch Marketing.
However, this is also where we need to look a bit deeper to better understand how and why these themes come together.
Let’s start with Google. Google has been, is, and will continue to be the dominant force in hospitality marketing. Most consumer searches quite simply start with Google. Ask most of those same consumers “Did you book through Google” and they will likely say “No, I booked through _____.” What they don’t realize is they touched Google somewhere along the way.
Google has been actively transforming their travel ecosystem, to the point of having their own OTA-like immersive travel page.
The real genius in what they have done is that they have created an entirely new landscape that can reap the rewards of CPC (cost per click). The results below show PPC (Pay Per Click) ads for what are effectively non-branded search terms.
What better way to increase the revenue from your real estate than to create more real estate?
This first example features a simple search for “hotels in New York City” and the PPC ads associated with it.
Once we expand this view, we are taken to a more immersive travel page featuring (you guessed it), more PPC ads at the very top of the list in the form of Google Promoted Properties.
These examples exist in different forms across many of the metasearch channels including TripAdvisor Sponsored Placements.
Such ads are commonly referred to as Destination Marketing Ads. DMAs are “metasearch-adjacent” ads with options to link-off to both your hotel and/or OTA partners.
The reason I reference this is it exemplifies how Google is shifting traffic from their traditional non-branded search space into a more immersive travel experience. This is good for the consumer and hotelier alike.
Likewise, we have already seen traffic from your branded search terms become cannibalized by the metasearch points of sale featured in your Google Business Profile (formerly known as Google My Business listing).
The branded and non-branded search queries are already shifting to these areas, which addresses our 1st point of why metasearch plays a key role in the pandemic recovery.
That leads us to the second point – Personalization. We have been talking about the demise of third party cookies for quite some time now. While this has been temporarily delayed, we know it is eventually going to happen. Many articles have been & will be written about how to adapt to this, but the most effective way is quite simple. Get first party data. This means getting the user directly to your website.
Personalization takes many forms, and I could draft an entire article on that topic alone. However, it all starts with the data, and this is where hoteliers can surpass OTAs. Metasearch, along with other direct booking campaigns, plays an instrumental role in driving our direct traffic.
Direct bookings have been a popular topic for many years, with valid comments about cost of sale, higher conversions and ROI taking center stage. Let’s not forget another important factor – communication.
We don’t want to say it, but we all know it’s true. It’s only a matter of time before a hotel somewhere has to temporarily close, notify a guest of upcoming renovations or reach out about any number of reservation issues. Would you prefer to contact the guests yourself, or let an OTA handle this for you?
Finally, we must consider the AI (Artificial Intelligence). We see several companies who have made amazing progress in developing machine learning algorithms to help optimize campaign performance based on available market levers. (If your metasearch campaign manager isn’t using AI, let’s talk!)
However, what has been happening behind the scenes makes this a little more interesting. Google quietly released a new booking lever that allows bid adjustments by a specific date. TripAdvisor has even had this out a bit longer than Google.
Date-based bidding is possibly the most requested, but also the most underused bid lever in the history of metasearch. Why? Quite simply, it is impossible to go through every hotel for every date and make bid adjustments based on occupancy. (Are you using an AI powered demand tool? We have a solution for that too!).
Automation can solve this by pulling in occupancy data. Once we have that element, we can start building rules such as “If my occupancy = 90% then adjust bids as follows.”
The result of such automation is we see a merger of revenue and campaign management to help drive marketing efforts towards the right guest at the right time.
Take this a step further and imagine how such automation could influence the DMAs we mentioned earlier. For example, if I know my hotel is less than 50% occupancy, but I have demand data showing a high market interest for a selected time frame, I could modify my Destination Ads to run more aggressively over these dates.
Metasearch Marketing stands at the intersection of the 3 most prevalent marketing themes for 2022 – Google, Personalization, and AI. The ability to combine these within one holistic campaign strategy will set the course for years to come.
As we collectively move towards a solid post-pandemic recovery, RateGain has a number of products that can help you with your Metasearch efforts. Did you know that at RateGain we have launched a number of AI Forward Products? Demand AI (a 70 day forward look at demand in your market), Bid Management that uses our powerful AI powered Demand Intelligence and Parity+ that focuses on your hotel’s rate parity across Metasearch Partners.
Let’s discuss the needs of your hotel and hotel partners. Reach out to us at MHSamericas@rategain.com and make sure you’re on the lookout for our newly redesigned blog where our Customer Success team shares best practices, tips, tricks and much more as it relates to: Distribution for both Supply and Demand, Business Intelligence Tools and Metasearch.
About the Author
Associate Vice President – Customer Success