What’s the difference? Are hotel metasearch engines actually providing any comparison service?

Meta search sites has been around for over 15 years. Comparing prices online is a pretty handy service when there’s an abundance of price and service options to choose from.  For example, a  return flight from Sydney to London can vary greatly in cost depending on whether you’re flying cattle class or turning left,  the route, departure and arrival time, onboard services how early or late you’re booking ahead of  your travel dates.

But despite claims that meta search engines like Trivago, Trip Advisor and Hotels Combined search and present results from “hundreds of booking sites for the best price”, the variables to choose from for the same hotel room at the same property are pretty limited. Remember, their value proposition is comparing prices for the same hotel over your travel dates on different booking sites, not prices for different hotels, which a booking site does very effectively.  Try it: search for a hotel in (insert destination) for  (insert travel dates). You’ll get pages of results of different hotels, but 3 or 4 different price comparisons which might vary by a few dollars at most.

Metasearch Article
Apart from a few bucks, there’s not much price difference in the average hotel metasearch results page.

Sure every dollar discount might attract a click from brand agnostics, but there are only really a few booking sites that are top of mind for consumers looking for hotels;  booking.com, expedia.com, and of course, the hotel’s own website.  And rate parity principles dictate that invariably they’re all offering the same thing.

This article by the travel tech distribution publisher Tnooz (soon to be known as PhocusWire) makes a pretty compelling case that hotel metasearch sites are offering diminishing returns of value for consumers (or hotels).  Read the full article