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metasearch and online travel agents

B&B management basics: What is the difference between metasearch and online travel agents?

Thursday, October 11th, 2018

As you seek to expand and improve your online distribution network, you will quickly discover that metasearch engines and online travel agents are the major players in the travel industry you need to engage with. In order to develop an effective B&B distribution strategy, you will need to know the difference between the two and how each type of agent can help your B&B.

What are online travel agents?

Online travel agents, or OTAs, are large websites that provide listings of all hotels in a particular area, while simultaneously promoting their current room rates. Common OTAs include Expedia and Viator, and travellers who use OTAs can book a room at your property directly through the OTA website.

The benefits of working with OTAs include:

  • OTAs will help you connect with a diverse range of travellers from around the globe, providing a powerful reach in the travel industry.
  • OTAs can help you promote your property and market your B&B.
  • OTAs can generate more bookings for your property.

The cons of working with OTAs include:

  • OTAs require you to pay a hefty commission for your bookings.
  • It can be difficult to compete on an OTA platform against all the other hotels in your region.

What are metasearch engines?

Metasearch engines are websites that compile travel data for interested users. For instance, a prospective traveller can search for hotels in a particular city and generate search results that include the property name, location and current room rate, among other details.

The main difference between metasearch engines and OTAs is that travellers cannot book directly via the metasearch results page. Kayak and TripAdvisor are popular examples of metasearch engines.

The benefits of working with metasearch engines include:

  • Metasearch engines allow you to increase your brand exposure online. It is essentially an extension of your partnerships with OTAs.
  • Metasearch engines are a cost-effective way of promoting your brand. You do not have to pay high commission rates, because they have a pay-per-click model that they follow.
  • Metasearch engines are becoming more popular among travellers, so they will quickly transform into one of the most powerful online distribution channels.

The cons of working with metasearch engines include:

  • Your travellers cannot book directly on a B&B metasearch engine, so there’s more chance of a traveller losing interest before they finalise their booking.
  • Metasearch engines can increase the competition at the local level, as travellers are often searching for hotels in a particular city or destination.

In addition to actively working to connect with distribution agents and improve your overall B&B distribution strategy, you’ll want to have the right technology in place so that you can implement your distribution plan. Little Hotelier includes a channel manager that allows you to broadcast your live rates and availability to all your distribution partners at once.

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