How Metasearch Is Playing an Important Role in the Travel Industry

December 9, 2020

Metasearch is a growing and evolving trend that is fast gaining popularity in the Vacation Rental Industry as travelers become more aware that booking through an OTA costs more money, adds little to no added hospitality or customer service, and presents a risk for fraud. The meta-booking concept is driven by a continuous shift in behavior as travelers are seeking an easy booking process, the ability to quickly compare prices across all platforms, and travel confidence in a global pandemic.

What is a Metasearch Engine?

We’re all familiar with metasearch engines through booking hotels and flights (Trivago, Expedia, Kayak) although it’s a fairly new entry into the vacation rental world. A metasearch engine is not an OTA! A metasearch engine appears as a booking channel, however is simply a price comparison platform and search tool that gives the traveler a list of websites to compare, showing direct rates and availability in real-time. Metasearch engines ultimately allow travelers to find their dream vacation home with ease at the best price and still book directly with a reputable property manager. One-click and the traveler is redirected to your website to book direct!

Why the Sudden Increase in Popularity?

Berlin-based HomeToGo and Munich-based Holidu are two leading metasearch websites for vacation rentals offering travelers millions of vacation rental properties with the ability to compare vacation rental prices and get the best deal. On seeing a growing interest in metasearch engines in their own data, James Burrows, CEO of Rentals United, caught up with these industry leaders for some first-hand insight on metasearch.

Head of HomeToGo’s inbound marketing, Joe Baur, said: “It makes complete sense that travelers would be extra cost-conscious right now. As a booking channel with the world’s largest search for vacation rentals, we compare over 18 million offers from more than 1,300 vacation home websites. That means travelers have the best opportunity with HomeToGo to find a vacation rental that fits their budget.”

Research shows that booking trends have changed globally and the full extent to how COVID-19 has altered travel behavior remains to be seen. Current trends show travelers are primarily in search of domestic travel with fluctuating lead time, distance, and length of stay booking habits. A metasearch engine gives travelers the opportunity to compare all their options, on a single platform with the ease of mind of a reputable and local on-site property manager.

Holidu’s Business Development Team Lead, Enrique Planas, says: “Holidu provides its customers with the best price for a given property, often with flexible cancellation policies. Allowing access to affordable alternatives, while at the same time reducing the risk of losing money due to cancellations caused by the market volatility during COVID-19.”

But it’s not only about the traveler!

In conjunction with the right tools, metasearch engines are an easy and effective advertising tool and marketing channel for property managers looking to stay competitive in an economic downturn. Metasearch adds to your online presence by showcasing your properties on multiple platforms, gaining extra visibility, reaching potential guests early in the travel process, and increasing direct bookings.

How to Optimize Your Listings for the Best Results!

Bookings from a metasearch engine are likely to be new guests so it’s important to present your brand with pride and optimize your policies, resources, and property listings for the best results.

  • Tools & Technology: Streamline your software solutions (PMS, booking engines, channel managers) and ensure you are using the right tools and technology to provide rates and availability in real-time.
  • Last-minute Bookings: Research has shown one of the effects of Covid-19 is that travelers are tending to be a little more impulsive so the ability to take last-minute bookings is important.
  • Offer flexible cancellation policies: We are all a little unsure of what tomorrow brings, a flexible cancellation policy gives your guest peace of mind in uncertain times.
  • Property listings and images: What is the first impression a traveler gets from your property? Review your property descriptions to ensure they are inviting and up to date. Your property images should be high-resolution with clear captions and showcase not only the home but your amenities and location. Guests looking for extended stays and workcations are in search of specific amenities to enhance their stay, highlight these in your images too.
  • Present your brand with pride: Visit your website from a guest’s perspective. Your website should give the guest all they need for a great guest experience – up-to-date local area guides, blogs with local travel tips, area events, tours, and activities. You must make the traveler feel confident that their vacation is in good hands.

They say travel is the only thing you can buy that makes you richer. It is a priceless experience and travel will recover. The economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic has put even more emphasis on price comparison platforms and metasearch websites as business and leisure travelers search for the best possible deal to fit their budgets.

Metasearch Engines are a welcome addition to our vacation rental toolbox and could possibly become the best source of bookings during these uncertain times.