The future of the Internet is closely linked to the semantic web: searches are becoming more personalized and effective all the time. This claim carries across to the tourism and holiday booking (including hotel) sector that is spearheading the use of the net as a tool for both communication and sales.
The rapid growth of high-ranking metasearch engines focusing on flights and accommodation has made the empire of online travel agencies shake in their shoes, because these can sieve through the information quicker. Metasearch engines such as the giant Tripadvisor, Trivago, Kayak or even Google have been able harness the development of the Internet and the way millenials (as today’s users are known) navigate, leading them to include the option for direct bookings through Tripconnect or the new Google Ads that replace Google Finder. The immediate response from the most high-ranking OTAs is to form their own alliances with metasearch engines, even purchasing them as in the case of Expedia or Priceline.
TripAdvisor is one of the most visited metasearch engines and has shown its ability to become a place where users can manage their whole trip: planning, comparing, booking and purchasing. It is clear why it is so successful; it is based on conversion rates and at the same time makes use of the OTA’s model, providing attractive offers that can be purchased in very few steps.
Kayak offers instant hotel bookings and at the same time is linked to the large OTAs, becoming a more honest intermediary with better offers, even though the final booking is made with the owner OTA.
According to 2014-2015 data from ResearchNow, more than half of Spanish travellers use metasearch engines to compare hotel rates. Trivago has observed a 59% increase in the number of users searching for the perfect hotel during 2015, and the average of Spanish hotels using a Trivago profile has also increased (78%). They have also focused on developing the Trivago Hotel Manager tool for owners and marketing departments.
Google has also launched an instant booking option, showing that this it is not just a passing trend, rather, the future of bookings will involve accepting the transformation of metasearch engines, no longer just invaluable tools for the client, now also invaluable for the hotelier, specially so due to the predominance in use of mobile devices; the speed and simplicity, avoiding bottlenecks, multiple tabs and various policies from each site.
When a client only uses these pages for their searches, the result is there is no product feedback, in this case for the hotel, so brand identity can become obscured by the offers and comments, leading to a loss of income through the direct cannel, meaning hotels need to make a larger effort to stand out and find their ideal market.