What is a travel metasearch engine?

Travel metasearch engines must not be confused with an online travel agent (OTA). They are a price comparison tool that compares hotel rates from all sources across the internet in one central place.

Thanks to advances in technology and throw-in a global pandemic, the general punter has increasingly converted their purchasing behaviour from an in-person experience to an online self-service experience. People want to be able to conduct their own travel research before making a decision. The travel metasearch engines provide a great platform for those who wish to price compare.

Examples of travel metasearch engines

You may have heard of sites such as Trivago, Tripadvisor and Google Hotels? These are all examples of metasearch engines. They compare rates from OTA’s and hotels directs to provide you a cental place to find the best deals at the time of booking. Whilst they are not a booking engine, it is a great source of truth. It will allow you to make a decision that is best for you and your budget. From this exploratory phase you can then book either via the online travel agent (OTA), or via the hotel direct. If the rates are displaying the same via an online travel agent and hotel, it is recommended to book direct with the hotel. You will often be rewarded with value ads for doing so.

What is the difference between an OTA and travel metasearch engines?

OTA’s display information, photographs, packages, terms and conditions for hotels per destination. You are also able to book directly via an OTA. Many hoteliers will list their hotel with OTA’s as it provides them a channel in which to promote their products and services. For small independent hotels who don’t have a large marketing budget, it will ensure their hotel is seen by millions of eager travellers acround the world.

Metasearch engines just display the rates of hotels for a given destination in order for your to make a quick price comparison. They do not have an integrated booking engine which is the big difference from an OTA.

There are however signs of change where big players such as Google are beginning to incorporate book buttons. The button will still lead you to transact via a 3rd party or hotel direct.

Should we bother with Metasearch engines?

Ultimately metasearch saves you time. It is a great place to start when researching your next holiday. It allows you to compare multiple rates from many different websites all in one place.