Data from the white paper drawn from nearly 10 million searches on meta engines in 2018 reveals that just 34% of bids monitored featured a direct link posted by a hotel.
Across March, April, and May 2018, less than a third of the shops made by data partner Fornova on meta sites had a direct hotel option being displayed. This rate reached a low of 18% in March 2018 and rose to a high of 28% of shops made in May. Ranking for hotels was also low on the sites monitored, with hotels' bids coming in at the sixth-ranked option on average in May 2018.
This is allowing OTAs to dominate the space, one which is increasingly crucial for attracting consumers. More than 90% of consumers report using meta sites for price comparison when booking accommodation but the vast majority of bids and outbound traffic from these hugely popular sites, including Google, TripAdvisor, and trivago are benefitting Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) finds the white paper.
Furthermore, hotels are being undercut by both their contracted OTA partners and by third parties working without agreements. The research finds that contracted OTAs are undercutting by an average of 5-6% on meta sites and by an even higher 10-11% by non-contracted OTAs. This means the consumer, who is largely driven by value, is frequently seeing better rates than hotels direct bids, meaning wasted spend and lost data and brand loyalty. When the consumer is searching 14 days or less out from their stay, the research found that they would see a lower bid the majority of the time from multiple actors.
This is a battle for hotels as the average hotel usually falls short of the labour and technological resources to do so. Furthermore, as Fornova CEO Dori Stein points out, there's no way for a hotel's revenue or e-commerce manager to know what meta engines are showing their guests in different countries because of the varying IP addresses. "Unless the hotel has a way to monitor its top inbound source markets, it's a losing battle," he added.
Chatchai Pongprapat, assistant vice president, revenue management at Dusit International appreciates the issue, "There is crossover between all of the different players on various channels and that makes it very hard to maintain rate integrity," he said. The company's solution has been to partner with Fornova, which polices the rates and helps Pongprapat to maintain rate integrity and partner behaviour.
More effective monitoring and activity on metasearch sites can have a very real effect on the bottom line: "We felt we weren't featured very visibly as their models evolved and so we hired a third party that could constantly monitor our meta campaigns and make them effective programs," said Preferred Hotels & Resorts, Global Vice President, Revenue Optimization, Rhett Hirko. Meta-driven bookings jumped 30% after Preferred began working with a third-party partner to manage meta campaigns. They determine the best ROI from each individual meta site based on the budget Preferred dedicates to the channel, as well as meta sites' performance for Preferred based on click-through volumes. Hirko noted that in terms of how cost effective the move was, "it took a while to tweak the program, but we're definitely getting good returns for our investment."
For more on how metasearch is shaping the digital accommodation market, download the free white paper now.
This white paper, made in conjunction with Fornova, gives real-world data on hotel, wholesaler and OTA bidding strategies, alongside consumer behaviours, and meta success metrics. Use these to understand the channel, the competitive landscape and build a winning strategy!
Learn the following from this white paper:
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EyeforTravel is an online travel intelligence provider to hotels, airlines, online travel agents, cruise, car hire firms and more. Established in 1997 by Tim Gunstone, right at the inception of online travel, the group offers a diverse product portfolio including industry analysis, insights, research, webinars, reports and conferences. From major hotel brands to new startups, EyeforTravel helps its 80,000 strong customer base make better decisions, build better brands, close the most lucrative deals and ultimately sell more of their product.
For more information visit www.eyefortravel.com.