What are travel meta search engines?
Travel meta search engines are engines that compare prices of hotel and flight inventories from multiple websites and present the best or cheapest rates to the users. These engines reduce the trouble of manually checking each website and finding cheapest rate on hotels and flights. According to PhoCusWright, 54% of Chinese, 36% of American and 35% of British travellers use meta-search engines to compare rates. Through strategic alliances with key channels, meta-search players are adopting semantic search, and ensuring near accurate customized price comparisons based on user preferences in an easy-on-the-eye display. Travel meta search engines were not taken seriously until a couple of years ago when Expedia bought Kayak and invested in Trivago. This sector has retained the same model for years. Thankfully things have changed and we are soon going to see huge growth in these engines. A focus on accommodation would be a better place if any new travel meta search engine is thinking of arriving now as according to a general consensus, hotels offer higher margin on profit than flights. Those who have been running these engines for long do not seem to consider specific areas of the industry at all.
Benefits of travel meta search engines –
- The single most important benefit of these engines is the ability to get all the rates in one place.
- These engines also provide user reviews in one place allowing customers to look and book immediately.
- Meta search engines always display the best rates as they don’t sell anything directly, they simply curate the best of rates over the web, meaning getting rates from the biggest travel agents and direct sellers.
Drawbacks of travel meta search engines –
- Since meta search engines don’t have their own inventory and don’t sell anything directly, they don’t offer customer service or support to solve disputes, if any.
- Sometimes the amount of information and choices offer on a meta search engine can be overwhelming to customers.
Why meta search engines will have to evolve?
Consumers are no longer getting the best from their meta search engines. The travel meta search engines will be forced to move from pure price comparison to product comparison although the differences in price are going to be narrow with online travel agencies having powerful and vast suppliers of inventory. The meta search engines will have to consider how they can highlight the differences in actual product in a better way perhaps even making price secondary influencing factor for consumers. Given the unbundling of countless products in the air and accommodation sector into paid-for ancillary services, being able to search using those elements – adding and subtracting each during the process – is potentially the way forward.
What are your thoughts on this? Do you feel positively about the travel meta search engines’ growth? Where do you see these services in the future? We would like to know your thoughts. Drop a comment in the comment section below and connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Linkedin.