Opinions on the value of metasearch engines in the travel
industry vary from person to person – or maybe it is just the most popular
topic of debate among insiders.
No surprise, of course, that two of its most
optimistic proponents are the CEOs of two of the biggest metasearch brands –
Skyscanner’s John Mangelaars and Trivago’s Axel Hefer.
In a conversation with PhocusWire senior reporter Linda Fox
at The Phocuswright Conference 2021, Mangelaars and Hefer acknowledge metas
weaknesses in some cases but both also see a heightened need, particularly as
COVID has made travel a more complex process, with Mangelaars calling it “the
best time for meta.”
Hefer says the reduction in travel to large cities has
certainly been a headwind for metasearch, since the benefit of comparing offers
is greatest when travelers are going to metropolitan areas that have a dizzying
array of options.
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But both executives say their focus throughout the pandemic on
serving as “information providers” – not just on traditional topics of prices
and availability but also to help travelers understand travel restrictions and
topics of emerging interest, such as sustainability, is adding value and reinforcing
their relationship with their users.
“And the second a destination opens up, sticky customers translate
into more bookings,” Mangelaars says.
And Hefer says he expects to see new uses cases regarding the
types of comparative information meta can provide.
“In particular for a staycation, Wi-Fi speed is something that
you can compare. ... there I do expect a lot more innovation,” he says.
Also spurring new opportunities for meta, says Hefer, will
be the Digital Markets Act, approved by European Union lawmakers last week,
which outlines rules to limit the power of tech giants such as Google, Amazon
“It will ensure much, much fairer competition, and it will
abolish certain misconduct that is currently hindering innovation and competition
particularly on the consumer facing side,” he says.
And Mangelaars says the focus for Skyscanner is to make it
simple for people to travel, and to understand the users needs every time they
are using the platform, so ultimately “the product is the marketing” as
satisfied users share their experience with others.
Watch the full interview below...
Evolution of Metasearch in Europe - Skyscanner Trivago -The Phocuswright Conference 2021