A metasearch engine (also known as a search aggregator) is an online search tool that sends search queries to many different sources, aggregates results, and organizes them in a ranked list.
For instance, in the hospitality industry, metasearch engines pull hotels’ inventory, rates, and availability from their hotel websites and/or OTAs they work with and display it in one place. This way, travelers can find and conveniently compare options that fit their criteria (destination, travel dates, number of guests, etc.). They can check prices, view pictures, and read descriptions and reviews without having to browse through numerous travel platforms.
Travel providers partner with metasearch engines to increase their online presence and customer reach. In addition, they receive guests’ contact information (in case of booking) which is important for marketing purposes.
Metasearch engines get their revenue from advertising. They don’t usually handle bookings but only redirect users to partner websites (hotels, airlines, OTAs, tours and attractions platforms, etc.) to complete transactions. So they typically operate on either a CPC (cost per click) or PPC (pay per click) cost model.
Some of the most popular metasearch engines are Google, TripAdvisor, Trivago, Kayak, and Skyscanner.