UpTake is a travel metasearch engine. This term is beloved by those in Silicon Valley, but means little to the average traveler. My friends’ eyes glaze over at the word because it sounds like well, engineer speak and it is. But travelers need to pay attention. Metasearch is an extremely powerful tool to help travelers quickly find the right information. Wikipedia offers a great definition:
“A metasearch engine is a search tool that sends user requests to several other search engines and/or databases and aggregates the results into a single list or displays them according to their source. Metasearch engines enable users to enter search criteria once and access several search engines simultaneously. Metasearch engines operate on the premise that the Web is too large for any one search engine to index it all and that more comprehensive search results can be obtained by combining the results from several search engines. This also may save the user from having to use multiple search engines separately.”
The traditional travel meta-search engines with their tag lines alluding to “metasearch” are:
- Kayak-“Search 140+ sites at once, sort & filter instantly, buy direct from travel sites.”
- Farechase (now part of Yahoo! Travel)-”Search dozen of sites with one click.”
- Sidestep (now owned by Kayak)-”We search over 200 travel websites to bring you the very best travel
values on the web.”
- Mobissimo-”The world’s most comprehensive travel search engine.”
- Farecast (now owned by Microsoft)-”Smart Travel Search”
These well-known travel sites traditionally compared prices of airline flights from dozens to hundreds of sites to help a consumer find the best deal. They responded to a clear unmet need in the marketplace. Web search engines such as Yahoo and Google were too broad and the online travel agencies such as Expedia and Travelocity were tied to the GDS which is defined by the Business Dictionary as “a worldwide computerized reservation network used as a single point of access for reserving airline seats, hotel rooms, rental cars, and other travel related items by travel agents, online reservation sites, and large corporations” and didn’t aggregate prices from other sites. These sites clearly offered better pricing information than the existing sites at the time–they made it easier to make a decision based on price alone. But pricing information is not enough because of…
The flood of information via social media
With consumers researching reviews, articles, blogs before they book a room a new unmet need arises. Consumers need this tsunami of information aggregated, analyzed and packaged just as pricing was re-thought a few years ago. Why do travel behemoths care? Because consumer travel reviews are influencing travel decisions when it comes to booking. It isn’t all about price. It is also about that other word in the travel equation–quality.
USA Today writes, “about a third of American travelers who research trips via the Web read reviews written by fellow travelers, according to Forrester Research. Of those who book hotels online, a third have changed plans based on other travelers’ comments.” Those casually written reviews are powerful change agents.
And in the UK, “a survey by American Express found that more than 80% of UK consumers are now researching online before booking a hotel and 62% before booking a restaurant. Nearly half of them said they have refrained from booking a hotel or restaurant as a direct result of a negative review on websites such as TripAdvisor and TopTable.“
Consumers want a positive travel experience and they rely on other travelers to help them bypass the marketing spin to get the truth about a hotel, restaurant or destination. Price is only one consideration.
Hotel reviews are the new focus of metasearch. There are millions of opinions on hotels across many sites– a rich source of data is available. Hotels are also where the online money can be made. If a site owns review traffic, they can be the avenue to…you got it, a rich source of booking revenue.
Recently Kayak announced they were launching a hotel review metasearch with Travelpost. If they are entering the hotel review metasearch, who else is already there and who is succeeding? More on that in the next post.