1 (Of The Many) Reasons Why You Should Think Twice Before Investing In Metasearch Sites

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Hotel Distribution

Yes, think twice before investing in Metasearch Engines. And I really mean it. At least until your booking engine provider will adapt the way they feed MSEs, following the example of the OTAs.

Hotel Distribution has become incredibly more complex in the last 5 years than it used to be before, also because OTAs are moving forward, whilst booking engines struggle at keeping up the same pace.

The one below is just a very straight forward example of how OTAs dynamically the price advertised for your hotel, based on different conditions.

Let’s see. The hotel I shopped is in Italy (click on the image to see it in full-size):


Also consider that the final price is exactly the same, so, in this particular case (very often it happens quite the opposite), we are not dealing with disparity-rate issues.

The rate coming from the booking engine is not popping up, but it’s ok, this is quite beyond the point for now.

For the sake of simplicity, I took Expedia to show the final result, simply because it popped up on all 3 examples I made:


Sorry, it’s in German because I am in Germany. Thus Expedia automatically applies the language of the country I am in.

But again, this is the final price I got in all my 3 searches. To wrap up:

  • Net Room Rate: € 405
  • Taxes (excluding City Tax): € 40.53
  • City Tax: € 27
  • Total: € 472.98

1st case:

Natural search from Germany, where I actually am, on TripAdvisor.com.


Being on the .com, TripAdvisor shows up in English.

Being in English, most OTAs show me nightly rates excluding Taxes, essentially because this is how american people are likely used to perceive rates, excluding taxes:

  • € 135 X 3 nights = 405 (slightly rounded down)
  • € 405 + 40.53 (taxes) = € 445.53
  • € 445.53 + 27 (city tax) = € 472.53

2nd case:

After clearing my cookies, I connected to a VPN to simulate the search as if I was in Italy, on TripAdvisor.it. Thus in Italian.


The price advertised by all major OTAs is € 149. But again the final price is the same, meaning the difference simply stands in the advertised price.

It’s just a different way of including/excluding taxes. Field in which OTAs are masters… or monsters!

In Italy, we are likely used to perceive rates including taxes, but eventually leaving the city tax apart.

  • € 149 X 3 nights = 447 (slightly rounded up)
  • € 447 + 27 (city tax) = € 474

3rd case:

Cleared my cookies again, natural search from Germany where I currently am, this time on TripAdvisor.de.

Hence results in German as TripAdvisor assumes I am likely a German user.


Once again the price advertised by OTAs is different: € 158, meaning the nightly rate including everything.

  • € 158 X 3 nights = € 474 (slightly rounded up)

Ok, so what’s the point?

I mentioned earlier, in this specific case the booking engine is not feeding any MetaSearch site and therefore is not popping up.

And considering the above scenario, it’s a good choice, because on average IBEs are not smart enough to dynamically change the price advertised in the rooms&rates booking step, nor do they dynamically feed MSEs based upon the origin of the search.

With most IBEs you can simply choose among including or excluding taxes to show your rates to your audience. No matter where they come from.

I have already explained in another topic how in such a scenario, a hotel that had cheaper rates in its booking engine, ultimately “appeared” being more expensive on METAs, because the IBE was showing fixed prices including taxes, as compared to all other OTAs that were showing prices excluding taxes to the audience in the Americas.

I’ve been asking this feature for at least 3 years to several different IBE providers.

Every… Single… Time… the answer I received was the same-old-same-old: “We haven’t got any request of this sort from other hotels. When we’ll get more, we will think about it”.

Alright then. So, dear hoteliers, please do me, and more importantly, do yourself a favor: can you please ask your respective booking engine provider to have this feature listed any time soon in their pipeline?

Ask your colleagues, your competitors, whoever works in the hotellerie. I would REAAAAAALLLLLLLYYYYY love to see this live any time soon or late, before I get old!

From the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU.


P.S. By the time of this post, I have access to the data of 200+ hotels. The top 5 performing hotels are NOT on MetaSearch Sites.


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About Me

Alessandro Crotti

Alessandro Crotti

I am Alessandro Crotti and I am a Digital Strategist and E-Commerce Coach for Independent Hotels. This is the only thing I have been doing for about 17 years now. I help Hotel Professionals to generate more leads, more prospects and more bookings.

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