Hotel Tech Lab, Pt.4

Speaker Insight: Matthew Harris, HOTELSCOMBINED

Now is the time to put your metasearch strategy in place

After the success of the first edition in Prague in April, Availpro took the Hotel Tech Lab to the UK in May

The second edition staged at The Hoxton, Holborn, in London on May 16 explored the theme of “Fresh Trends in Hospitality”. The event attracted another full house of hoteliers, all eager to draw on the insights of six expert speakers – including Matthew Harris, Property Relationships Manager for Sydney-based metasearch engine HotelsCombined


At the Hotel Tech Lab, Harris spoke about metasearch from a consumer perspective. “We can get bogged down in technology and trends, but ultimately we’re here for the consumer,” he reasoned.

The recent acquisition of Momondo by Priceline for $550 million and China’s biggest online travel agency Ctrip’s purchase of Skyscanner for $1.4 billion indicate that metasearch is here to stay. So with so much traffic coming through metasearch engines, you might think the next step for them is to monetise that by also taking bookings, but it depends on consumer perceptions. TripAdvisor, for example, said Harris, is a place people look at for reviews, but is not seen so much as a transactional site.


He also reinforced a point made by Frank Reeves, chief executive and co-founder of hotel booking engine provider Avvio, about the importance of personalisation, saying: “Price search is not enough; metasearch needs to keep up when it comes to customer personalisation, the customer experience.”

Harris warned about “The Airbnb effect”, and that hoteliers in London and other cities with fast-growing demand can’t be complacent when supply is increasing as fast. “How are you going to get your property distributed? Probably by signing up with one of the big OTAs to make yourself instantly bookable, which gives you the platform to go on to metasearch as well.”

He sees great potential for the growth of metasearch in Asia Pacific, where, in 2016, 20% fewer consumers searched on meta before booking a hotel than did so in North America. HotelsCombined serves 300 million users per year worldwide. Making its metasearch engine available in 42 languages has been a big selling point for its affiliates, according to Harris and he expects it to help their future growth in Asia.


For the full event recap, read here

Stay tuned for more updates from further speakers!