Thank goodness that travel metasearch has grown up over recent years.
That is not to say that its inhabitants were childish (ahem), but its acceptance by the rest of the industry as a valuable part of the "travel ecosystem" speaks volumes as to its progress as a sector.
Of course, those running Skyscanner, Kayak et al will have always believed this point would come, but it took the deep coffers of Priceline and Expedia in late-2012 (buying Kayak and investing in Trivago respectively) to signal to everyone else that it was time to take metasearch VERY seriously.
Two-and-a-half years on from those heady few months, what can we expect to see from a sector which - apart from the ownership structure of a number of its leading players - has essentially retained the same model for years?
A number of those who have been playing in the sector for many years - Skycanner, TravelSupermarket and HotelsCombined - congregated at the recent Phocuswright Europe conference in Dublin, where they were asked what would they do if they had to start again.
You will never get any existing company to admit their own model is wrong or that they should indeed start again, but there is a general consensus that hotels (rather than flights) is where the higher margins exist, so a focus on accommodation would be a better place for any new metasearch engine to consider if arriving on the scene now.
TravelSupermarket managing director, Vic Darvey, goes one step further with the argument that DIY flight + hotel combined (dynamic packaging) is where consumers are losing out from the current crop of providers.
"Like a GoCompare for travel."
This idea is a natural extension on the product side for metasearch, but not really a (r)evolution of the model.
In fact, specific areas of the industry do not seem to appeal at all to some of those who have been running metasearch brands for many years.
For example, speaking at an earlier Phocuswright event at ITB in Berlin this year, Kayak CEO Steve Hafner was asked if tours and activities would be something the company would consider incorporating into its core service.
Hafner suggested that there "wasn't a consumer need for it" given that metasearch users are generally very early in the purchase funnel and things-to-do and attractions are a part of a trip being bought either in-destination or at the last minute before departure, weeks or maybe months after transportation and accommodation are organised.
Back to (r)evolutionary ideas, then.
One important change to consider, and a far better hint as to where all this might lead to next, is around the idea that consumers are no longer getting the best from their metasearch engines.
The Dublin panel floated the idea that travel metasearch may find itself being forced to move from pure price comparison to product comparison - clearly an entirely different proposition altogether.
With online travel agencies (powerful and vast suppliers of inventory into travel metasearch engines, alongside suppliers) consolidating apace, differences in prices are going to narrow.
The vast pool of choice dependent on price could effectively become nothing more than a small puddle of relative sameness.
So to survive and grow, travel metasearch engines will have to consider how they can highlight the differences in the actual product in a better way, perhaps even making price a secondary (but still important) influencing factor for consumers.
Yes, most metasearch engines have those elements as part of the filtering process, but the price of the core product is still portrayed as the most important part of a search.
However, given the unbundling of countless products in the air and accommodation sector into paid-for ancillary services, being able to search using those elements - adding and subtracting each during the process - is potentially the way forward.
This mechanism is increasingly part of the booking journey on supplier sites (slice and dice a product before securing a final price), so why not allow consumer-lead-generation intermediaries do the same.
Hafner was probably right in Berlin when he opined that he "wouldn't want to be a sub-scale meta player" right now.
But that is arguably not taking into consideration a wholesale change in what consumers want to compare.
There is, some are beginning to argue, an opportunity to portray metasearch in wholly different way.
NB: Travel search image via Shutterstock.