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Recently, we came out with a report in our Skift Trends series, The State of Travel Metasearch in 2015. Below is an extract.
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UK-based InterContinental Hotels Group, the largest hotel group in the world, was an early adopter of travel metasearch some 15 years ago but now thinks the metasearch sector is at a pivotal moment and is re-evaluating its participation.
What has IHG officials so upset about metasearch trends? In short it is increased pricing to participate but, more importantly, it is the stampede of metasearch companies, including Kayak, TripAdvisor, Qunar, Hipmunk, Skyscanner, Dohop, and numerous others, implementing direct bookings right on metasearch sites or within their apps instead of handing off consumers to hotels’ own websites to complete the transaction.
Skift spoke with Michael Menis, InterContinental Hotels Group’s senior vice president, digital and voice channels, for our trends report The State of Travel Metasearch in 2015 about why IHG’s views about metasearch are changing.
A small excerpt from that interview is below.
Skift: From InterContinental’s perspective, how do you view metasearch these days? Has it changed over the years? Does it vary from brand to brand?
Michael Menis: When you think about the evolution of metasearch, in the early days, it was something that was very exciting. Metasearch really gave us an environment, for the first time, to be able to market to a customer in a multi-brand environment but also be able to manage that transaction through our direct channels. Previously that type of environment was limited to an online travel agency.
We were very early adopters of the model. We had large relationships with SideStep [acquired by Kayak in 2007] back in the day. We were the first supplier to integrate with them back then. In many ways, SideStep started this and ultimately they got bought by Kayak. This is a model that’s something we’ve been really interested in for quite a long time because of the role it plays in providing access to a consumer base intended to ultimately support our ability to drive reservations through the direct channels [websites, phones etc.].
It has evolved quite a bit through the years. I think most notably the changes that are happening right now with the launch of things like Instant Booking, as they each are exploring ways to capture the transaction on their sites. It really changes the model a bit.
Skift: Making the metasearch model less attractive?
Menis: Well, making it a different value proposition. At the end of the day, I’m not quite sure consumers know the difference between metasearch and online travel agencies. If you add in the element of their capturing the transaction on their site then at that point there is very little difference.
Skift: And so what does that mean for the value proposition for you guys?
Menis: Well I think it just changes. We are always looking for ways to explore opportunities to drive consumers to our direct channels. And as metasearch moves into capturing the transaction, that means we’ll have to try to identify other opportunities to try drive direct.
Skift: Are you finding that Google hotel metasearch is becoming more important?
Menis: We were the first supplier to integrate with Google Hotel Finder. We really pride ourselves on being an innovative company that’s always looking for ways to increase exposure for our hotels. As you’d imagine, Google is a very strong brand, and as a result they’ve got massive traffic and continue to drive exposure to the tool. The value of that to IHG continues to increase as they provide additional support for traffic and functionality.