What are hotel search engines?

Hotel search engines are online platforms that allow travellers to search, compare, and book accommodations at various hotels. Users can filter their searches based on location, price, star rating, and amenities, making it convenient for travellers to find the perfect hotel that suits their needs and preferences.

For small hotels, hotel search engines are incredibly important to understand and master. Including your listings on hotel search engines and optimising them for maximum visibility is crucial for ensuring that travellers can find your hotel easily. 

The fact is, a survey found that 94% of travellers are using metasearch engines to compare hotel rates. If they aren’t seeing your rooms there, your small hotel simply won’t be an option!

What are the benefits of working with hotel search engines?

One of the most significant benefits of teaming up with hotel search engines is that they allow you to diversify your distribution channels. It’s always smart not to put all your eggs in one basket, right? Here are other advantages of leveraging on hotel search engines for your small property:

  • Hotel search engines offer a cost-friendly approach to boosting your visibility. Because they focus solely on hotels, you’re not competing with flights or rental cars for attention. This makes your marketing spend more efficient.
  • Hotel search engines are a hit with travellers who know what they want and have their hearts set on finding the perfect hotel stay. This makes them a powerful ally in getting your property in front of the right people.
  • Hotel search engines can drive direct bookings. They put the spotlight on your property, encouraging travellers to book directly with you. This can boost your bottom line and help you build a direct relationship with your guests.
  • Hotel search engines champion authentic guest reviews and real-life photos of your property. This transparency builds trust with potential guests and helps you stand out from the crowd.

Hotel Search Engines vs Metasearch Engines

While hotel search engines and metasearch engines may seem similar at first glance, there is a key difference between the two.

  • A metasearch engine generally includes results for flights, car rentals, and other travel-related services.
  • A hotel search engine is a specialised type of metasearch engine that exclusively displays search results related to hotels. 

Is it better to use a hotel search engine or a metasearch engine?

The best hotel search engines specialise in one thing – hotels. They’re designed to provide a more detailed, personalised search experience for users looking specifically for hotel stays. This means hotel search engines can offer more specific features and filters that cater directly to the needs of hotel-seekers, such as detailed information about amenities, room types, and customer reviews.

Working with hotel search engines can mean your small hotel is more likely to be discovered by travellers who know what they want and are ready to book. It’s ideal for being found by guests that are already 90% of the way towards a sale.

On the other hand, metasearch engines are like a giant supermarket. They offer everything from flights to car rentals to hotels. They’re often popular with travellers who are still figuring out their options and they can be great to be listed on if you are able to offer your hotel as part of a broader package deal.

So, is it better to use a hotel search engine or a metasearch engine for your hotel? The truth is, successful hoteliers ensure they’re present and performing well on both. Hotel search engines capture the guests that are ready to book, and metasearch engines capture the guests that are still figuring things out. Being top of mind for both of those audiences is crucial.

Hotel Search Engines vs Online Travel Agents

Hotel search engines and online travel agents have different business models. However, they both work together to achieve greater online exposure and an increase in bookings for small hotels.

OTAs are important for any hotel, including small accommodation providers. They can help you reach markets that you don’t have direct access to. Each of them displays and sells hotel rooms with information, rates and photos. Prospective guests can then book their desired hotel from the OTA website, then they collect a commission from each sale.

A metasearch engine or hotel search engine collects all rates available for your hotel online, through multiple online channels (such as OTAs) and presents them as a list to your guests. They include your own website’s rates. This creates a faster and easier process for guests to find and compare hotel prices and ultimately make their booking decision. The key difference is that metasearch engines don’t take a commission, so there’s no incentive for them to discourage direct bookings.

In short? OTAs help you market your business to more travellers, but they take a slice of every sale. Metasearch engines don’t take that commission, providing you with more revenue. But just like hotel engines and metasearch engines, it’s best to be present on both. Diversification is key!

Top 7 Rated Hotel Search Engines

Most guides give you a top 5 hotel search engines but we have given you a bonus 2! Here are the top hotel search engines you should be represented on:

1. Google

With its integrated search function, Google provides a seamless experience for users looking for a hotel. Its interactive map and street view features are unique, allowing users to visually explore the hotel’s surrounding area.

2. Booking.com

Catering to all budgets and tastes, Booking.com offers a vast selection of accommodations from small boutique hotels to luxury resorts. It also provides a “Booking Assistant”, an AI-powered chatbot that helps users with their queries and bookings 24/7.

3. TripAdvisor

TripAdvisor sets itself apart with its extensive user reviews, providing authentic feedback on hotels. The “Travellers’ Choice” awards highlight the best-rated hotels, and its “Things to Do” section helps users plan their entire trip.

4. Trivago

Trivago’s extensive database and advanced filtering options help travellers find the perfect hotel match based on their preferences. Its unique “Top Deals” feature highlights the best value-for-money options for each search.

5. Kayak

Kayak is known for its flight and hotel package deals and an excellent price forecast tool that advises whether to book now or wait for a potential price drop. The “Explore” feature also allows users to discover new travel destinations within their budget. This makes it a popular hotel discount search engine.

6. HotelsCombined

This search engine stands out for its comprehensive price comparison feature, pulling in prices from multiple websites. Its user-friendly interface and rating system help users easily find the best hotel for their needs.

7. GetaRoom

Known for exclusive deals and discounts, GetaRoom often offers travellers special rates not found on other platforms. It has a “Flash Sales” feature that provides last-minute deals on top-rated hotels.

How do Hotel Search Engines Work?

Keen to get onto a hotel search engine? Here’s what you should expect from the process:

Step 1: Create a profile for your hotel

The first step is to register your property on the hotel search engine. You’ll need to provide basic information like the hotel’s name, address, and contact details. It’s also a good idea to add a brief but enticing description of your hotel, emphasising its unique features and amenities.

Step 2: Upload quality photos

A picture is worth a thousand words, especially in the hotel industry. Showcase your hotel with high-quality, professional photos that highlight its best features on your hotel search engine listing. This could include pictures of the rooms, common areas, exterior, and any unique amenities you offer.

Step 3: Set your rates and availability

Next, you’ll need to input your room rates and availability. This information should be accurate and up-to-date, as it directly impacts the bookings you’ll receive. Many search engines allow you to manage this information directly or integrate with your property management system for automatic updates.

Step 4: Highlight special offers

Most hotel search engines allow you to feature special deals or packages. If you offer any such promotions, make sure to highlight them. This could help your hotel stand out from the competition and attract more bookings.

Step 5: Respond to reviews

Many hotel search engines include a review section where guests can share their experiences. Be proactive in responding to these reviews, both positive and negative. This shows potential guests that you value their feedback and are committed to providing excellent service.

Step 6: Optimise your listing

Most hotel search engines provide analytics tools that let you track your performance. Keep an eye on these metrics to understand what’s working and where you can improve. This data can inform your future decisions and help you optimise your listing for better results.

Get more direct bookings from hotel search engines with Little Hotelier

Managing hotel search engine listings and ensuring they remain optimised is a whole job in itself. Huge hotels have entire teams dedicated to this — how do you compete?

Little Hotelier has a dedicated Demand Plus feature that makes mastering metasearch and hotel search engines easy, getting you in front of the right guests who are ready to book. Our program manages, monitors and optimises your campaigns every day, ensuring you get the most out of your listings. This includes metasearch management across all of the top-rated hotel search engines mentioned earlier. 

And best of all? There’s no work required by you. Your listings will send guests straight to your website, and you only pay us for completed stays. Low effort from you, high reward for you, and an awesome opportunity to stay competitive, even against larger hotels.

Little Hotelier simplifies the process by offering a comprehensive system that manages everything in one place.

  • Attract new guests. We make sure your hotel is seen by travellers on leading hotel metasearch platforms such as Google Hotel Ads, Trivago, and TripAdvisor. These guests are actively looking for accommodation and ready to book directly with your hotel.
  • Boost revenue. By driving direct bookings through metasearch, you establish a direct relationship with your guests, opening up opportunities for repeat bookings for your hotel.
  • Take back your time. Achieve more bookings without lifting a finger. Leave the nitty-gritty of setup, bidding, and billing to us. We manage everything for you to ensure you’re maximising the benefits of your listing on hotel metasearch engines. This frees up your time to concentrate on providing an excellent guest experience.
  • Integrate with everyone. We elevate your property to the top of search results, helping you compete with third-party channels. It’s all seamless when everything is managed from one unified platform like Little Hotelier.

No matter where your bookings come from, Little Hotelier consolidates them all for your convenience. By leveraging this platform, small hotels can enhance their guest experience and revenue, with many of our users seeing an increase of up to 46% in bookings and an impressive ROI of 63x!

By Shine Colcol

Shine is the SEO and Content Manager of Little Hotelier, the all-in-one software solution purpose-built to make the lives of small accommodation providers easier. With more than five years of experience and expertise in content strategy, creation, and management, Shine has produced informational content across various topics, mostly around improving daily operations and increasing business metrics. She aims to share well-researched articles in hopes of helping bed and breakfast owner-operators win more bookings and gain more control of their small property.