Metasearch and revenue distribution

Metasearch travel sites are confusing…

…are they the only ones to blame?

I just read an article about metasearch sites and the confusion they create to the customers, reference here https://skift.com/2017/01/03/tripadvisor-instant-booking-testing-learning-and-confusing/ . Very valid content related to the booking process that made me start thinking if the metasearch sites’ confusion ends up only there.

I want to take off my revenue management hat and play the role of the regular customer for a while.

I am looking for a 4 star Hotel in New York, for 2 nights and I am not using Tripadvisor this time, but I choose to search through another popular metasearch site.

I pick my favorite Hotel in the list, the one that meets my taste and budget, and have a look at the rates and travel websites showcasing availability for my stay:

  • Site 1:                 € 359
  • Site 2:                 € 438
  • Site 3:                 € 451

At this point in time I do not really care about anything but price, and the rate is my only decision driver – that is (or should be) the reason why I am using this tool.

So I happily click on Site 1 (the cheapest) but with my disappointment I realize that what I saw is not what I am getting, as at the end of the booking process the final price for my stay is higher… The final rate I get for the 2 nights stay at my preferred Hotel (now including taxes and commissions) is:

  • Site1:                  € 412
  • Site2:                  € 519
  • Site3:                  € 510

Site 3 was showcased as being more expensive than Site 2 at the beginning of my search, but ends up to be cheaper! So I move it to the second position in my “looking for the best deal” journey.

As my curiosity grows, I start looking at something else rather than pricing. Here is what I find:

  • Site1:                   € 412 – Cancel up to 15 days prior to avoid 100% penalty. 50 € charge if you modify or cancel any time before 15 days prior.
  • Site3:                   € 510 – Cancel up to 1 days prior to avoid 100% penalty. Free cancellation and modification any time before 1 day prior.
  • Site2:                   € 519 – Not refundable, not changeable.

As a customer, I would at this point feel quite confused and start including other factors than merely price in my decision making process. Wouldn’t you? How would you feel about the Hotel offering the exact same product, at such different rates and conditions?

Going back to my title question, I still tend to agree on the fact that metasearch sites may be confusing but there is more to that. Metasearch sites link to travel websites that are fed by Hotels/Airlines/Car Rental companies that distribute our products onwards…

So at the end of the cycle I believe that it is also up to us, as suppliers, to do our best to control and manage the distribution of our products…. not to end up to be ourselves among the ones to blame for an already confusing booking process.

 

[Originally posted on LinkedIn. January 4th, 2017]

 

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