Digital Travel Space Makes Room for Hotel Metasearch Sites - eMarketer

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Digital Travel Space Makes Room for Hotel Metasearch Sites

Complexity of hotel metasearch allows for more revenue potential than airlines

January 10, 2014

Travel metasearch sites—search engines specifically dedicated to displaying travel product pricing and information—are influencing the marketplace for digital travel shopping and booking, and the most significant implications for marketers have to do with evolving metasearch business models, according to a new eMarketer report, “Hotel Metasearch: Marketing Strategies for an Emerging Ad Platform.”

Large online companies including, Expedia, TripAdvisor and Google have invested significantly in travel metasearch as publishers to create strategic alignments and increase advertising revenues, as pay-per-click advertising is a key revenue driver for most metasearch sites. From an advertiser’s point of view, travel suppliers see metasearch as a more cost-effective and efficient way to drive potential bookers directly to their own websites, and they’re developing strategies to leverage this evolving channel.

Online Travel Ad Revenues Worldwide, by Site, Q1-Q3 2012 & Q1-Q3 2013 (millions, % of total revenues and % change)

Metasearch customers in general tend to be deal-seekers, hence their gravitation toward price comparisons rather than shopping directly with a brand they’re loyal to. Hotel and airfare shoppers both might look at metasearch to find the cheapest deal most convenient to their travel plans, but the elements that comprise “most convenient” are more complex when it comes to hotel research. While airline metasearch queries tend to be general, exploratory and exclusively price-based, hotel searches are more targeted and specific because of nuanced information consumers seek about particular hotel properties such as location, star ratings and traveler reviews.

For these reasons, hotel metasearch has more revenue potential than airlines on a per-search basis. To illustrate, stock analysis firm Trefis estimated in January 2013 that airfare searches accounted for 84% of travel queries on KAYAK, the US metasearch market leader, compared with 14% for hotels. Yet KAYAK made $321 in revenue per 1,000 hotel searches, compared with $79 in revenue per 1,000 airline queries in 2012. In addition, hotel searches were growing at a faster pace than other travel products, according to the Trefis article.

The full report, “Hotel Metasearch: Marketing Strategies for an Emerging Ad Platform,” also answers these key questions:

  • What is hotel metasearch, and how do consumers use it?
  • Does metasearch level the playing field between hotels and OTAs?
  • What percentage of digital hotel advertising budgets does metasearch account for?
  • What constitutes a successful hotel metasearch marketing campaign?
  • What will determine the future of hotel metasearch?

This report is available to eMarketer corporate subscription clients only. eMarketer clients, log in and view the report now.


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