Over the years, online hotel bookings have increased dramatically: according to Statista, last year the market value for hotel reservation made on the web was over 42 billion in the US alone. However, the search volume on classic search engines (such as Google or Bing) for generic travel-related keywords is constantly decreasing.
The starting point for online bookings is no longer, as it used to be, the classic search engine, but what is technically called a vertical search engine or, more specifically, a metasearch engine.
According to SimilarWeb, more than 10% of the Booking.com traffic comes from metasearch, and that number used to be way higher, up until when the Priceline Group (which accounted for more than 40% of trivago’s revenue) decided to dramatically reduce its investments in metasearch ads. Expedia shares similar numbers.
This decrease in investment can seem surprising, but let’s take into consideration that the line between metasearch engines and OTAs is getting more blurry every day, so there is a real risk of advertising overkill and brand dilution.
According to several studies, last year Google responded with universal search results to more than 80% of queries, (mainly YouTube videos, images, and news). Having all the “action” in the SERP could be a revolutionary step in hospitality, as it would bypass OTAs, brand.com websites and metasearch tout-court. Let’s keep in mind that travel is the third industry for revenue for Google, preceded only by financial services and retail, so the interest is pretty high.
The extreme competitiveness in travel is slowly bringing search engines, OTAs and metasearch engines to converge towards an increasingly homogeneous model. The model that will prove to be the most efficient in terms of scalability and efficiency for the end user is going to prevail.
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