Search trends are changing and travelers are no longer satisfied with a generalized search for their travel inspiration. This trend is showing in a rise of travelers using meta-search, TripAdvisor or OTAs to find their hotels.
This article was originally published in Cleverdis online magazine.
This doesn’t mean that generic search is dead, but it’s being used differently.
The inspiration and purchase cycle for hotels runs somewhat like this:
Ask friends and family, then check OTAs (they’re the easiest meta-search system to use) then go on TripAdvisor. In many cases the guests will then check out the hotel’s website to get more information details etc on the hotel.
Try searching for “hotels in ________” and see the results, aside from OTAs and meta search sites being on the first page (plus some Google Business Listings) the results aren’t very inspiring.
To choose one must be able to compare, and generic search engines don’t offer the possibility to compare, hence the importance of meta-search.
For hotels this means they must be available on all meta-search sites. But the down-side of it is that meta-search engines will only accept direct website rates from large booking engines. Thus the importance of choosing the right booking engine from the start. This isn’t an advertising for booking engines. But it’s a heads-up for hotels that are searching for broad visibility.
Rate parity also becomes an important issue because playing around with rates will inevitably help hotels show up on the top of listings.
What hotel’s must do above everything is have great websites. Meta-search and OTAs have a weakness that hotel websites can remedy and that’s emotional impact, more information and better displayed. As most travelers will look at the hotel’s website that website must excel in the following points: 1. Speed, 2. Emotional impact and 3. User experience.
If these are well done and the user is driven to the booking (subtly please) you’ll increase the conversions not only of direct bookings but overall bookings through all channels since many travelers will like your website and be reassured to book through OTAs as well.
VP Marketing and Sales
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