We just wrapped up day two at ITB Berlin—the world’s leading travel trade show. The official theme was Hospitality. The topic hotels couldn’t stop talking about was how to drive direct bookings.
For just over a decade, ITB Hospitality Day has been focused on revealing key industry trends through the eyes of its biggest influencers in the hotel business. This year’s hottest topics include the rise of food-tourism, the need for digitalization, and the unique distribution value of metasearch.
On the topic of metasearch and how to drive direct bookings, a panel discussion titled Metasearch & Co.: The Invisible Battle for the Guest, included a dynamic trio of experts: Johannes Thomas, Managing Director at trivago, Tobias Ragge, CEO of HRS; and Marius Donhauser, owner of Hotel Der Salzburger Hof and founder of the operations and communications software company hotelkit.
The goal? To help hoteliers understand the potential opportunity that metasearch provides them in the quest for more guests in the battle to drive direct bookings.
In this blog post I’ll explain what metasearch marketing is, how it can help you grow your hotel business online, and reveal the highlights from this informative session.
The rapid growth and evolution of metasearch marketing will drive direct bookings
By understanding the value proposition that makes metasearch so unique, you can begin to minimize the dependency that you have on big booking sites.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with hotel metasearch, think of it as a search engine. It consolidates key information from accommodation providers and booking websites to display the results on one transparent platform for travellers to review and compare.
Gone are the days of low-tech bookings and last-minute foot traffic. The modern traveller is a social media addict and a seeker of instant gratification. However, the concept of digital booking is nothing new. It’s been around for decades and drives a lot of traffic for hotels. That said, the landscape of hotel distribution is changing.
How much influence do platforms have on the online performance of hoteliers?
Wondering how you as a hotel owner can navigate the maze of online hotel distributors and marketers? Well, according to hotelier and panelist Marius Donhauser, “if you don’t participate in the digital world, you’ll lose business because the guest isn’t going to send you a fax to make a booking anymore.”
Guests want an almost immediate confirmation, and hotels need to work with tech solution providers that can offer this as well as the simple, common-sense experience they want.
Tobias Raage reaffirms this by adding: “the hotel’s core product is hospitality. By working on the guest experience and investing in several tech solutions that can manage distribution and operations for you, you can focus on what you do best: service. And then, you’re really setting yourself up for success.”
In addition to this and the fact that most travellers notice a discrepancy between hotel listings and the room-level experience, Johannes Thomas emphasized how trivago is striving to “reduce the gap between expectations and reality.”
So, what is that gap, and how can metasearch help you solve it?
We’re all familiar with the dissatisfaction that online purchases can bring. Oftentimes goods and services appear one way, whereas the guest’s experience with them is entirely different. It’s this difference that trivago seeks to correct. Johannes Thomas went on to say that “we have to work towards an online distribution channel that understands the user’s expectation at its core.”
The point is not to put all of your eggs in one basket. Rather, take advantage of the companies that will get you the traffic you want, have the expertise to know where to find it, and at a budget that works for you.
Go with a mix of high-quality providers who are determined to push your brand forward, and start with transparent companies that provide information in an easy-to-understand fashion for hoteliers and travellers alike.