Travel Metasearch Engines VS Online Travel Agencies

 MyTravaly Admin 30 Oct, 2020 9 mins read 1

In the wake of this pandemic, a sudden halt in the global interaction due to the crisis, the world experienced a sudden disruption which has caused certain changes for ever and also given an advantage to the new technologies evolving each day for a seamless service to its customers as well as hosts.
In concern to the travel industry the two famous jargons, 'Travel metasearch engine' and 'Online travel agencies' are changing the experience of travellers as well as hoteliers quite quick, therefore it has become crucial than before to understand the difference and importance of these terms, so here is a guide of all you need to know about the two terms not only as a traveller but also as a hotelier.


A metasearch engine is a tool that retrieves information from several search engines across the web to generate its own search results according to the input of the user. It basically sends the query of the user to the multiple search engine and after identifying the correct search result  presents  the integrated result, all at one place for the users easy access. Some sophisticated meta search engines also conduct database selection i.e selection of the search engine which are likely to produce even more comprehensive results like if we searched the word 'table', it gives us all the videos, blogs, images and even social media suggestions  related to the keyword.

Online travel agency is a website that allows travelers to book hotel rooms, flight tickets, holiday packages and other travel related services online. It acts as an agent between the travellers and the accommodation and ticketing services, managing their own commission from the service providers and often offer better discounts and packages. They also include an inbuilt booking system which facilitates direct booking unlike Metasearch engines.

Meta search engines were developed because individual search engines couldn't extend to the entire web by themselves and are also prone to manipulations of people trying to improve their website rankings and inaccurate results of the real interests of the user, Meta search engine supports various formats unlike  search engines and working with them seems far more effortless.

Their working in simple terms

The interface of the meta search engine is quite similar to the individual search engines, displaying multiple options of types and categories related to search and also retrieves a user- specific result. A meta search engine does not create its own database rather than creates a combined database by integrating the databases of the other search engines and develops its own method of ranking in which removes identical results and develops new ranking of the sites  upon every input preferring major sites. It also filters data by fusion for more personalized and relevant results.

Online travel agencies provide a dedicated website to travelers along with all the information about flight, price, availability of airlines and hotels, ratings etc. which enables a user to compare and make bookings directly.

So it basically checks availability through an API from all the different providers of the service, filters it according to the customer's needs, also facilitates booking and payment through integrated payment gateway sending a booking request to the provider, accordingly receiving the ticket issue and booking confirmation.

 OTA's earn through the difference of the list price and discounted price from the travel suppliers who provide to increase their reach through the help of OTA for which they provide these services at confidential discounts to the OTA's  which serves as a distribution channel that costs zero additional charges until they provide sales. They also provide a number of business tools to assist business management and organise their data and also several advantages to users by providing access to Railways, hotels, airlines, tools, car rentals etc  from a single website along with the offers and discounts provided by them.


Metasearch engines enable users to compare the range of prices offered by the dealers across the web really fast and help them understand and choose according to their preferences and needs. For a hotelier , he gets a chance to showcase their great deals to the whole set of customers across the globe and sell more rooms. Metasearch is an important space for hotels as the small business and the large hotel chains are displayed at an even-handed ranking free of special preferences and help small and medium sized business get the same exposure as the large ones across the web. It also gives them the chance to market and promote themselves across the web with an edge over the competitors, it also gives them more freedom to execute their own marketing strategy and increase engagements. It is to be noted that, Travel metasearch engine doesn't provide booking space rather bring those booking sites to the user, according to the best deals, availability, budget, reviews that help customers make better decisions and proceed with the booking channel they find best. Metasearch engines help hotels acquire more direct booking and earn through pay per click basis which costs much less than what Online travel agents charge, allowing the hotels to reduce the booking rate due to saved commission through meta search engines. Metasearch also encourages positive reviews and authentic images which help in hotels positive branding, adjusting booking rates are easier without third-party involvement and reflect changes instantly.

OTA's  helps a hotelier reach millions of international potential customers instantly and facilitates comparison of travel services like accommodation, ticketing etc through authentic reviews, information and an inbuilt booking system allowing instant bookings. The major benefit of partnering with OTA is the exposure due to the website visitors across  the globe and also a trustworthy platform whom people approach for recommendations. They help in building the reputation and awareness of the respective services which even facilitates direct bookings from their own websites once the user is aware and convinced of The authenticity and satisfied with the facilities provided. Which also saves upon the OTA's commission. Most of the hotels are aiming to build a loyal customer base through repeated visits and then start booking directly. To consumers, they can provide some of the best deals upon the service to the partnership and often reward benefits usable for the next travel trip and some easy cancellation policy not necessary available on the direct website of the service. It is also a great convenience for native travelers with less knowledge of  online booking and ticketing. Also they provide expert insight and safety to a traveller's trip. Through OTA's, checking authentic reviews and getting the inside out of a place or service became a lot easier than before.

The bottom line being that though meta search engines do not facilitate direct bookings but enable the promotion without a third party involvement at no commission due to their pay per click model and will be the hottest distribution channel in some time due to some meta search engines now already providing direct bookings through to increase trust and loyalty, hotels  need to work on their properties marketing through reviews, photos and information that reflect authenticity and trust. Hoteliers would be missing out on a large number of audience if they completely ignore the OTA’s and nowadays some of the OTA’s have started offering comparison usually with 3 to 4 comparison sites which is however far less than the metasearch comparison result. Which one is better according to you for booking as well as listing? Do share with us in the comment section.

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