Flywheel News | October 2023 Hotel Digital Marketing News | GCommerce

  1. TikTok, X and Meta Unveil Ad-Free Subscription Models

Could the future of social networks include a subscription model? Meta has been forced to offer a subscription model, due to regulations in Europe while TikTok is exploring an ad-free model on its platform for limited users, and X is launching a premium ad-free model. Based on the success of the model, it could impact the reach and value of these platforms for advertisers.

  1. Understanding Metasearch Pricing Models

As metasearch continues to expand into one of your most important channels for direct revenue, it’s important to understand your choices in terms of pricing models. At Metadesk, we talk to hoteliers every day and have encountered a wide variety of various pricing models for metasearch advertising. Here’s a handy breakdown of pricing models you might consider, or in some cases, be stuck with.

  1. Google Testing Ads Between Organic Listings

Now that we are in a “continuous scroll” experience on Google search, it makes sense that Google would try to find more ad placements as users scroll through the results. Google has been spotted testing ads between the organic listings - learn more here.

  1. Our Team Is Excited About These Changes To Facebook & Instagram Reel Ads

Meta is rolling out changes to its Reel Ads placements, including Collection ads, Multi-destination Reel Carousel ads and swipe left functionality. These changes not only simplify the campaign creation process, it make for more engaging (and better performing) ads. Check out the full suite of changes here. In addition, Instagram Reminder Ads can now be easily created in Ads Manager with reach expanding to the Stories ad placement.

  1. Learn What CRO Is And How It Can Help Drive More Direct Bookings

You can spend all the money in the world on ad traffic, but if you’re not optimizing your site for conversions, you’re missing out on valuable direct bookings. Learn more about how your hotel’s website can benefit from CRO here.

  1. What Is The Difference Between Hotel Metasearch Rate Parity and Price Accuracy?

Rate Parity and price accuracy are commonly mixed up- learn the difference and how important these two elements are to the success of your hotel’s metasearch. 

  1. Photos Are Even More Important For Google Maps Visibility and Local SEO

How often does your business create and post new photos to Google Business Profile? Google Maps is launching a new “photo first” search experience. It’s time to review your photos and make sure they are up to date with your business’s experience and offerings.

  1. How Can Your Hotel Remove Friction and Drive More Bookings?

Frictionless experience was the buzzphrase a few years ago- but did you know it’s still an extremely relevant variable to success? Learn tips and techniques your hotel can use to remove friction from online bookings.

  1. Just for Fun: Google Provides The Most Popular Halloween Costume Trends

Check out this link, where Google puts its trends to spooky use,  helping you discover the most popular costume ideas for Halloween as well as custom ideas for you.

Price Accuracy, Rate Parity, and Hotel Metasearch Conversions


Price Accuracy Vs. Rate Parity

Price accuracy and rate parity are two of the most important factors to control when it comes to hotel metasearch. The two are not directly related but are often confused with one another, and both play a vital role in driving the most direct booking conversions. Price accuracy refers to ensuring that the rates displayed in the metasearch channel reflect the real rates in your booking engine. Rate parity refers to how often you are being undercut on rates by OTAs selling your rooms through their sites.

Price Accuracy

Did you know that price accuracy improves your metasearch conversion? Did you know it can actually lead to increased costs, higher CPCs, and less visibility if your prices aren’t accurately reflected in your booking engine? In fact, Google says your price accuracy score affects the auction positioning and advertising cost of your Google Hotel Ads metasearch listings. Ensure price accuracy while improving your conversion rate with these simple booking engine best practices:

  • Publish your BAR rate - Don’t get undercut by the OTAs in the listings. Make sure you always offer potential guests the best available rates.
  • Ensure your lowest rate is listed first - Google’s policies indicate your rate should be prominently displayed on your booking engine landing page and that the lowest rate (the rate shown in Google Hotel Ads) be the first listed rate available. It also helps ensure a smooth customer journey when the first price listed is the price they see in your booking engine.
  • Add any and all public promotions to your channeled metasearch rate/inventory feed - If you offer deals and discounts that the OTAs can’t match, listing those rates on your metasearch channels will give a greater incentive for guests to book direct.
  • Be thoughtful about how many rate types you display on your booking engine page - Guests may be overwhelmed if there are too many rates available on your landing page. The goal should be to decrease friction at all points in the booking process.
  • Use understandable language -  Communication is always key. Make sure any callouts or text in ads are compelling and concise. Language on the landing page should match your Brand voice and be easy to read.

Rate Parity

Rate parity can have a massive impact on your conversion rates for hotel metasearch, but what is it exactly? In short, rate parity means ensuring you aren’t being undercut on the best available rate. Below is an example of a hotel experiencing rate parity issue; notice how Priceline and TripAdvisor both offer rates lower than the official site.

  • Always be the best - OTAs are always looking for ways to beat your official site rates, trying to steal your direct bookings. Because metasearch interaction and conversion rates are driven so heavily by price, it’s vital that you offer the lowest rate.
  • Monitor your listings - It’s important to be aware of how often your rates are not the lowest rates being displayed. Hotels with higher instances of being out of rate parity consistently have lower performance than those whose rates are in line.
  • Have a strategy - A rate parity strategy is a set of policies that work together to ensure that your prices stay in parity. It may seem trivial to focus on rate parity, but it has an outsized impact on your conversion rate.

Rate parity is one of the most essential ways to increase your CTRs and conversions, while lowering your CPCs and increasing spend efficiency. After all, if your customers can get a better rate somewhere else, why wouldn’t they?
We specialize in improving your metasearch conversions. Reach out to our hotel metasearch experts today at

Flywheel News | September 2023 Hotel Digital Marketing News | GCommerce

  1. It’s Time to Finalize Your Holiday Marketing Campaigns

Can you believe it’s already the start of Q4?! If you haven’t already, now is the time to send your holiday marketing campaign details to your agency for Cyber Weekend and beyond. We encourage all clients to include a “save the date” campaign that runs a week prior to your sale starting to boost success of these holiday flash sales. Hurry and contact your CSM today!

  1. Google’s Bard Can Now Connect to Your Google Apps & Services

Have you played around with Google’s Bard to see how it connects with other Google Apps and Services? Go to Bard and test having it plan an upcoming trip. You’ll see that Bard now responds with real-time info from Google Maps, Flights, Hotels and Youtube. What does this mean for your hotel’s marketing? The future of being found on Bard seems closely associated with your participation on Google’s suite of products - think Google Business Profile and Local SEO (& reviews matter - check out the highly rated line in the summary below) as well as Google Hotel Ads/metasearch. 

  1. Website Landing Page Best Practices

Looking for ways to improve your website engagement metrics and improve conversion rates? Brush up on some website landing best practices in this education blog.

  1. ChatGPT News: Rolls Out Voice & Image Prompts + 26% of Top Sites Blocking It’s Bot

ChatGPT is rolling out new prompt features including voice and image prompts - allowing you to interact with the tool with your own voice and by simply sharing images as part of your query. But, the platform continues to come under scrutiny by content creators for its lack of citations and links back to the original content source. Due to this, many top websites are now blocking it’s bot from crawling their content. This trend will probably continue until the platform starts citing sources/sending traffic to the original sources.

  1. Meta Verified Rolling Out to Brands

A new monthly subscription package that claims to boast brands on Instagram and Facebook as well as offer access to direct support for account troubleshooting is rolling out. Meta Verified includes a verified badge, new ways to be discovered and more. Is your business ready to test this $34.99/month option? Our research came back with less than stellar feedback about the program - with many saying it wasn’t worth the money.

  1. Dive Deeper Into the Differences Between Google UA & GA4

Still a little foggy on differences between Google UA and GA4. Read through this easy to follow guide from our team.

  1. The Importance of Hotel Metasearch

Hotel metasearch engines work as aggregators, pulling data from various sources to create a list of available room rates for a potential guest to choose from. They improve the booking experience for your guests, making it easier to reserve rooms and compare rates. Learn more here.

Flywheel News | August 2023 Hotel Digital Marketing News | GCommerce

  1. Google Sending Out Alerts Re: UA Data Processing

Months after what was expected to be the official deadline of when Google UA would top processing data, account owners are getting alerts that their UA accounts have officially stopped processing new data. Have you noticed this in your Google UA accounts yet?

  1. TikTok Officially Announces Search Ads

According to TikTok, 58% of users discover new brands or products on the platform. Now, advertisers can capitalize on this even more with the introduction of the search ads toggle. This feature is automatically enabled with the creation of an in-feed campaign but can be disabled if desired. Learn more about this new feature and where it appears on the platform here.

  1. Instagram Launches Multi-Advertiser Placements, to the Display of Advertisers (And Users)

If you’ve scrolled through Instagram recently, you’ve probably noticed a new cluster of 4 ads lumped together in what is officially called the Multi-Advertiser placement. Although CPMs with this placement might be less expensive, the fear is that users will quickly start skipping over them, and they’ll provide little value to advertisers. Learn more about this new feature and how to opt out here.   

  1. Metasearch Products for Any Property in Any Market

As metasearch continues to expand into one of your most important channels for direct revenue, it’s essential to understand your choices in terms of pricing models. Metadesk offers a variety of products and pricing models designed to fit any property’s unique situation and market conditions. Learn more here.

  1. Google Business Profile Rolling Out Social Links 

Up until now, companies haven’t been able to manage or edit social links shown in Google Business Profile listings. Google is now adding this functionality as an attribute in Google Business Profiles, and it’s rolling out now. Learn more.

  1. Learn Why GA4 Data Might Not Be Matching Up in Different Reporting

A common question and source of confusion that GA4 presents is when data doesn’t quite add up the same when drilling down into different areas of the UI or even with the API data from the platform. We found this blog to offer a lot of great common reasons why you’re seeing different metric counts when viewing the data in different areas of the UI.

  1. Google Announces Changes to Visibility of HowTo and FAQ Markup

Google has announced changes to HowTo and FAQ markup visibility in the SERP. FAQ will only be shown for well-known government and health workshops while HowTo will only be shown for desktop users. This could significantly impact sites, including travel-related ones, that have capitalized on FAQ-rich snippet visibility over the years. Learn more about these changes here.

  1. Google Search Generative Experience OFFICIALLY Rolling Out Links to Sources

This is a big, long-awaited change for SEOs and search marketers. Up until now, Google’s Search Generative experience has failed to feature links to sources and drive well-deserved traffic to the source sites. As of August 30th, when you see an arrow next to information in the experience, you can click it to see relevant sources and easily visit those pages. Learn more here.

Metasearch Pricing Models Explained


As metasearch continues to expand into one of your most important channels for direct revenue, it’s important to understand your choices in terms of pricing models. 

At Metadesk, we talk to hoteliers every day and have encountered a wide variety of various pricing models for metasearch advertising. Here’s a handy breakdown of pricing models you might consider, or in some cases, be stuck with. 

A Media Placement Fee

We mostly see this pricing model offered by booking engine providers, and if you’re like most hoteliers, your metasearch presence is facilitated by your booking engine. 

Most booking engines charge you a percentage of what you allocate as your metasearch media budget, usually between 10% - 15% applied to a media budget ranging from $1,000 - $3,000 per month.

Booking engine providers love this because it’s a low labor source of revenue - they simply need to maintain a tech connection that publishes a live feed of your rates and availability to metasearch channels and collect a tidy fee.

If the percentage you pay in media fees + your metasearch advertising budget is lower than your OTA commissions, this model can be a win. But a problem we see more and more is that OTA’s are spending huge amounts of advertising dollars to dominate metasearch. And if your booking engine doesn’t allow for any media strategy whatsoever, you’re at a huge disadvantage.

Best for:

This pricing model works well for advantaged hotels that tend to fill up based on their location or surplus demand in their market.

One main drawback is if you want to use metasearch for more, like targeting need dates or a certain type of traveler, forget it. Your booking engine isn’t capable of incorporating any type of strategic targeting on your behalf. 

Flat Fee + Media Budget

The second-most common pricing model we see at Metadesk in the industry is a flat fee + media budget. We commonly see a range of advertising budgets of around $1,000 - $1,500 with the management fee ranging from $400 - $75 on the low end ($75!!).

At first glance, this seems like a great deal for hoteliers, especially with macro-economic factors like rising marketing costs and operational overhead.

But what we find is that for a management fee so low, the metasearch provider must work hard to limit their labor cost; the aim is to avoid providing support, and typically nobody is actively managing your advertising campaigns.

Instead, these providers try to manage your strategy with algorithmic and programmatic functions alone, which can be problematic without oversight provided by humans. One common problem we see is your rate strategy being compromised by automated price-matching to meet or beat the unscrupulous practice of big OTA undercutting your rates in auction.

In regards to budget, the issue here is two-fold: Many properties would prefer not to pony up even that small amount of cash each month if it can be avoided, and on top of that, the budget can oftentimes be too small to really compete with big OTA.

Best for:A flat fee + media budget is best for small to mid-sized hotels, with mid-range annualized ADR, in low to non-competitive markets.

Pay-Per-Stay Commission Model

A performance-based model that charges a commission for only stays that take place, this model works well for hoteliers that need more from metasearch and who have decided to prioritize ways to increase direct bookings.

Hoteliers like this model because it aligns their interests with that of their metasearch partner. They’re only billed for stays that take place; typically cancellations, and even reservations created by your loyalty members, are excluded from billing.

Another big advantage of this model is the fact that the 3rd party provider assumes all of the financial risk and funds your advertising budget.

It also means that, in theory, your budget is uncapped and only limited by the travel demand in your market. Your metasearch partner will keep spending as long as they’re generating reservations. This means that instead of your cash flow that determines your advertising budget, which can be arbitrary and restrictive, it’s market demand.

Best for:

This pricing model works well for properties in a competitive market that need to utilize metasearch as a strategic advertising channel to help address need periods (like mid-week vs weekend, on vs off-season, etc.) and target individual travel segments.

One huge plus is that properties using this model don’t have to come out of pocket for their metasearch advertising budget.  

Organic Only Flat Fee

If you’ve never heard of this pricing model, it’s because we just invented it 😎 And as we write this piece, this model isn’t available anywhere else.

Despite a flat fee + media budget model being very low cost in nature, some hotels simply don’t have enough inventory to make the math make sense. They may struggle to see a return on even a low budget amount of $1,000 per month, and giving away a percentage of the channel is not a great idea when your total monthly profit is low figures.

That’s why we’ve developed a low-cost way for hoteliers to display an organic listing only. And with a strategic rate strategy (sSuch as a loyalty or member rate channeled to meta) your official site will still be there at the moment of booking, alongside OTA channels with a higher rate.

Best for:

Small hotels, or those with a low ADR, where traditional metasearch pricing models just don’t work.

We hope you found this breakdown useful and informative. At Metadesk, we offer a range of metasearch products to best serve your unique needs.

Please reach out if you’d like to discuss your metasearch advertising strategy and which model might work best for your property’s unique needs.

The Importance Of Hotel Metasearch


Hotel metasearch engines work as aggregators, pulling data from various sources to create a list of available room rates for a potential guest to choose from. They improve the booking experience for your guests, making it easier to reserve rooms and compare rates.

On the surface, hotel metasearch may seem like yet another distribution channel, but it's vital to any successful hotel marketing strategy. Metasearch can improve the guest experience, help you beat online travel agencies (OTAs) to recapture direct bookings, and effectively target "bottom of the funnel" guests. You should consider using hotel metasearch to take advantage of a significant marketing opportunity.

Improved Guest Experience

Gone are the days of browsing multiple websites for rates before booking a hotel room. Hotel metasearch engines will do the work of research and organization for your guests, removing the hard part of making a reservation. The guest experience starts long before they set foot on your property, and the ease of booking through a metasearch engine will create a positive association between you and your guests. 

This easy booking process can also increase the chances of a guest visiting at all. Because so many hotels already use metasearch, manual rate shopping needs to be updated. If guests can not easily find your official rates on a metasearch engine, they may be discouraged from booking. And if your competition is the one skipping metasearch, that same discouragement could lead a potential guest to your hotel instead.

Beating Online Travel Agencies

OTAs have been using hotel metasearch for years and will continue to do so for many more to come. If you want to maintain a competitive edge, it’s vital that you throw your hat into the ring as well.  

OTAs have large marketing budgets that can easily outshine your own marketing efforts, so you need to do everything you can to beat them out and capture direct bookings. If you're absent on hotel metasearch, this is an automatic win for the OTAs. Guests can't book direct if there's no direct listing available!

If you are present on hotel metasearch, your official rates can easily win out. Since hotel metasearch engines display booking options side-by-side, it's effortless for guests to compare. If your official rates are equal to or lower than those of OTAs, guests are more likely to book direct. And more direct bookings means more money in your own pocket.

Hotel metasearch engines can even update automatically with discounted rates, and this is a great way to stand out above OTAs. “Book Direct” offers and other exclusive packages will be reflected in the hotel metasearch feed, lowering your rates and making a direct booking even more appealing. 

Targeting “Bottom Of The Funnel” Guests

Hotel metasearch is about as “bottom of the funnel” as you can get. This is the final step between your guest and their reservation, and it shouldn’t be overlooked. 

If you’re not nailing the bottom of the funnel, you’re sacrificing the effectiveness of all your other marketing efforts. Even if you convince a guest to stay with you over your competition, that stay loses some of its value if the final booking goes to an OTA. You work hard with your marketing, so you should maintain a strong presence to the final moments. OTAs will use metasearch with or without you, so don’t skip out on your opportunity to compete. 

Getting Started With Hotel Metasearch

To get the most out of hotel metasearch, you need to connect with a metasearch partner. They can ensure your official rates are displayed in the lists created by hotel metasearch engines, allowing you to stay competitive on these channels. 

If you’re ready to get started with hotel metasearch, check out our post on metasearch basics or contact Metadesk.