How and why travel metasearch will have to evolve
Thank goodness that travel metasearch has grown up over recent years.
That is not to say that its inhabitants were childish (ahem), but its acceptance by the rest of the industry as a valuable part of the “travel ecosystem” speaks volumes as to its progress as a sector.
Of course, those running Skyscanner, Kayak et al will have always believed this point would come, but it took the deep coffers of Priceline and Expedia in late-2012 (buying Kayak and investing in Trivago respectively) to signal to everyone else that it was time to take metasearch VERY seriously.
Two-and-a-half years on from those heady few months, what can we expect to see from a sector which – apart from the ownership structure of a number of its leading players – has essentially retained the same model for years?
A number of those who have been playing in the sector for many years – Skycanner, TravelSupermarket and HotelsCombined – congregated at the recent Phocuswright Europe conference in Dublin, where they were asked what would they do if they had to start again.
You will never get any existing company to admit their own model is wrong or that they should indeed start again, but there is a general consensus that hotels (rather than flights) is where the higher margins exist, so a focus on accommodation would be a better place for any new metasearch engine to consider if arriving on the scene now.
TravelSupermarket managing director, Vic Darvey, goes one step further with the argument that DIY flight + hotel combined (dynamic packaging) is where consumers are losing out from the current crop of providers.
“Like a GoCompare for travel.”