If your hotel has been running a metasearch marketing campaign, you may be asking yourself: Now what? While metasearch has proven to be a successful hospitality marketing tactic through the pandemic, there is a lot that goes into getting results.
Metasearch engines like Google, TripAdvisor, Trivago, and Kayak boomed in 2020, leading to an increase in direct bookings and helping some hotels achieve a return on ad spend (ROAS) of 10x or higher compared to pay-per-click ads. In recent years, metasearch websites accounted for 45% of travel traffic. As travel giants like Expedia and Priceline have bought Trivago and Kayak, metasearch has continued to take off and the competition has heightened.
That means if your hotel has metasearch in place, you need to stay on top of it to ensure you’re getting a strong ROI. Here are four tips to optimize your metasearch marketing strategy.
1. Optimize your metasearch bidding strategy
There is no such thing as set-it-and-forget-it in the hospitality marketing world and metasearch is no different. Just like pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, it’s important to monitor the performance and strategy in place for your metasearch marketing efforts.
One of the biggest challenges of monitoring metasearch tactics is keeping on top of rate leakage. Rate leakage occurs when a wholesaler gets a bundled discount on rooms and then leaks them on other channels such as Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) and metasearch channels. When hotels like yours are undercut, it can have a drastic impact on direct bookings.
By staying on top of your bidding strategy (or working with a specialist), you can mitigate the impact of rate leakage. Google Hotel Ads, for example, offers a variety of bidding methods ranging from PPC Commissions to Enhanced CPC (Cost-per-click). These can be challenging to understand and stay on top of, but with the right guidance, altering your hotel’s metasearch bidding strategy can help you stay dynamic and adjust based on current and upcoming room rates, room availability, and other factors that change over the course of the year.
2. Upload vivid photos and write a detailed description
It may be cliche, but it’s especially true in the travel industry: A picture is worth 1,000 words. Metasearch engine TripAdvisor found that hotel listings with at least one photo had a 138% increase in traveler engagement and a 225% increase in booking inquiries.
Guests want to see your property, but they also want to see where they’ll be sleeping. Booking.com suggests sharing around 24 photos, taking guests through the journey. This includes your location, property, amenities, and a wide range of room photos. It’s important that these images be professional and high-quality. As the pandemic winds down, think about the last time your hotel refreshed its photos on metasearch. And don’t forget OTAs! Many OTAs will show up in metasearch, so it’s important to keep tabs on both.
When it comes to the description, don’t let it be an afterthought. Keep your target audience in mind and think about what resonates most with them. Show off your hotel’s personality while highlighting your hotel’s most unique features and amenities. Most of all—keep it up to date!
3. Manage your online reviews
Staying on top of and responding to guest reviews across metasearch channels can seem like a daunting task, but there are a number of data points that show its importance. TripAdvisor found that 96% of its users consider reading reviews important when planning and booking hotels. And that’s not all. According to the same data, hotels responding to reviews was vital:
- 85% of users said a thoughtful response from hotel management to a bad review improved their impression of the hotel, an astounding increase from 32% in 2013.
- 65% of users are more likely to book a hotel that responds to traveler reviews compared to a similar hotel that doesn’t respond.
Does your hotel have a review management strategy in place? Reviews from OTAs often end up on metasearch sites, and monitoring feedback on Google Hotel Ads and TripAdvisor is especially critical given the larger volume. By consistently monitoring reviews, you can ensure your hotel discovers and addresses potential problems quickly and also leave a positive impression when future travelers are comparing hotels to book their next trip.
4. Monitor competitors and analyze the data
It’s important to be aware of what your competitors are doing on metasearch. In the end, price often wins out with travelers, and OTAs and metasearch allow for price undercutting. There are tools to ensure your room rates are on par with other listings, but it doesn’t hurt to also keep a watchful eye on what nearby hotels are doing both with their room rates and listings. And it’s not always just metasearch channels. Are your rates lower than the OTAs listed alongside it?
Monitoring competitors will also keep you in the loop for changes on the platforms. The companies are constantly testing new features, so it’s important to stay up to date with changes. There is no exact science to mastering metasearch, so testing and analyzing are both important. Don’t be afraid to change your marketing mix. Most hotels should be on Google, but altering spend between Kayak, TripAdvisor, or Trivago can be a good strategy based on performance. The one certainty? Metasearch can’t be ignored.
To see why metasearch is so popular, see how it worked for Edge Hotel through the pandemic. Then, check out our blog for more hospitality marketing tips.