Travel Metasearch: What’s Coming Next

by Dennis Schaal + Skift Team - Jan 2014

Skift Research Take

Metasearch is the biggest battleground in the online travel agency versus travel brands fight for consumer eyeballs and loyalties, and a tool for hotels to compete against other brands at the property level. What’s in store during its next phase?

Report Overview

Metasearch is the hottest thing in travel. Travel metasearch is a lead generation platform that allows consumers to compare rates from multiple online travel agencies and suppliers, usually in a single grid. The sector has attracted several billion dollars in investment in the last couple of years from Priceline, Expedia, Google and Sequoia Capital, to name a few, and metasearch, in the U.S. at least, is the fastest growing channel for travel shopping.

Source: Trivago

Source: Trivago

Tracing its routes to the very late 1990s and startups such as Sidestep, Qixo and FareChase, travel metasearch features companies displaying pricing and, ever-more-frequently, offering bookings for hotels, flights and car rentals. It has evolved from a channel that online travel agencies and suppliers tested and dabbled in, to a vehicle that large players most often consider an essential part of their digital marketing mix.

Online travel agencies, hotels, airlines, and car rental companies generally view travel metasearch as a relatively efficient way to drive traffic to their own websites, often getting a higher return on investment than they do through Google AdWords because metasearch’s consumer leads are more qualified. Metasearch is also a key battle ground in the online travel agency versus supplier fight for consumer eyeballs and loyalties, and is a tool for hotels to compete against other brands at the property level, for example.

This trends report will examine why travel metasearch is attracting so much attention and investment. It will take an inside look at the economics of travel metasearch for the metasearch companies themselves, and participating online travel agencies and suppliers. This trends report will present interviews with Kayak CEO Steve Hafner and Trivago managing director Malte Siewert about their respective companies’ strategies and practices inside global online travel agencies, and it will provide insights from key executives throughout the sector. This trends report will also detail emerging trends in travel metasearch, including mobile, as well as offer advice on best practices.