Is MetaSearch A Disaster Waiting to Happen?
How One Website Could Affect the Whole Industry
There have been a number of attempts to create a successful meta search website for vacation rental properties but none of them have managed to take off with the popularity of other travel meta search engines such as Skyscanner or Kayak. These names dominate flight and hotel searches, but we do not yet have a household name that searches through numerous portal sites. Today we’re imagining some of the consequences if a powerful metasearch website for the vacation rental industry was to emerge.
Metasearch has transformed the travel industry. From flights to hotels, they have given customers the opportunity to search numerous websites with just a couple of clicks. It lets consumers filter and search and then choose the product they want from a list of separate websites. It is often the best way to find the cheapest option that still satisfies all of your criteria. It promotes itself as a time saver and a way to find the right product at the cheapest price without having to visit multiple sites or even consult a search engine.
So, what would metasearch giant mean for vacation rental companies? A site that not just existed, but dominated the booking process of vacation rental websites.
The first point to mention is that metasearch tends to bypass brands and big portal names. Obviously, the consumer has the ultimate choice of which company they will end up purchasing with but, metasearch will give priority the properties that meet most of the search criteria over big name brands or portals. This would be an advantage for smaller vacation rental sites that think they have a quality product but miss out on bookings because they lack brand awareness or publicity. A dedicated metasearch engine for managed properties could be a way to distribute bookings amongst smaller companies that are breaking into the market with a competitive approach.
It might be that the first big site to do vacation rental metasearch focuses on just a few major portals and you may see fewer bookings coming directly from your own website. This means that businesses will have to concentrate their efforts on advertising their properties on the major portals rather than their own websites.
Only having a few selected portals to search means that guests will bypass the wider net of Google or other major search engines. If your website is not include in the meta search results then your business could be getting bypassed. Either by people heading to major portals or metasearch sites first, rather than traditional search engine results. The new SEO will be making sure that your site is first included in these searches, and then making sure each of your properties fit in as many criteria as possible to be featured first in the results.
At this point in time, many customers already go to a major portal as their first port of call, then searching by location before choosing and booking a property. Many don’t search out local brands or websites. They will let their favoured portal search through all the properties they have listed because of familiarity, trust and previous successful bookings. A Metasearch engine would add to this.
You may have worked hard to establish customer loyalty from your guests that is then partially undone by this. You are at risk of being undercut. Undercut by any company in your area. Branding efforts and reputation are cast aside when a metasearch giant steps into the frame. But it’s hard to say if a metasearch site could truly dominate vacation rentals as they are all so different. Flights between the same destinations are intrinsically similar so price often becomes the deciding factor. Two vacation rental properties in the same area, that sleep the same number could still be worlds apart in terms of quality and the overall enjoyment of experience. How do you quantify and measure this?
Metasearch has had a profound effect on the travel industry so far and it would clearly have some advantages for guests looking to book vacation rental properties if a global leader ever emerged. But, do you think this would have a positive on your business? Would it drive traffic to your properties, or would it concentrate existing traffic on the largest portals, leaving smaller websites left out and without traffic?
Share your thoughts with us.