About usWork with usContactFAQsBlogSign-in

Travel Meta Search: The impact of price-accurate data on UX

February 17, 2023
4 min read

A staggering 89% of online consumers have switched to a competitor’s website after a bad user experience, a study by Zippia found. In addition to typical user experience considerations, travel aggregators have further challenges to be cognisant of, such as a lack of inventory, pricing inaccuracies or the inability to offer the lowest rates. The impact can be significant and can threaten reputation, competitive advantage and revenue. 

The challenge of displaying comprehensive and accurate travel data

A challenge facing many travel aggregators is how to best access and return a price-accurate comprehensive inventory. With much of the available current data either coming from sources used by competitors, a myriad of APIs, and in some circumstances, directly from the competition, it’s a challenge to source comprehensive data, and even harder to provide a differentiated dataset for consumers. The reality for the consumer is that flight, holiday and hotel data can often be of poor quality on meta search and aggregator websites, lacking coverage or with significant pricing inaccuracies which all affect consumers’ decision to buy.

Skift’s 2022 State of Travel report found that price is becoming more important than ever for consumers in the travel industry. With average daily rates and other prices rising, travellers are now spending more time researching and comparing travel options in order to find the best rates. Challenges around accessing and displaying the best rates, together with rate discrepancies, are impacting user experience and having a direct effect on the consumers likelihood to purchase. Price conscious shoppers are more likely to book directly when aggregators are not displaying the best rates. According to TravelPerk, 29% of travellers prefer booking directly with 21% of them doing so because they are getting the best price.  

How most travel aggregators tackle the challenge of accurate pricing and availability data 

Travel aggregators are typically attempting to solve the issues around coverage and data accuracy by doing more of what they were doing - leveraging direct APIs where they exist and working with a variety of Global Distribution Systems (GDS) for inventory. The problem for travel meta search is that the established solutions, direct APIs and GDS platforms do not have full market coverage, and do not always provide the lowest rates. So, doing more of what they have done before is not solving the underlying problem, meta search platforms are still fundamentally unable to provide the lowest rates, directly from the hotels, for full market coverage, and the challenges of price-accurate data and price discrepancies still exist. Often where coverage is lacking, aggregators turn to the OTAs themselves, to display their data on the aggregator site instead of direct rates. 

Using OTA data on meta search and aggregator sites solves part of the problem of coverage, albeit not full coverage, but does not enable the aggregator to differentiate, and has the impact of introducing customers to competitive offerings that may have better pricing, more accurate availability and discounted loyalty rates. If a consumer can discover and book directly with the OTA, why would they need to use the meta search or aggregator at all? Aggregators can look to fill some gaps with additional connectivity partners, but even this approach with its myriad of integrations cannot provide data for every hotel, flight, holiday or experience that exists on the web as not all hotels are available. Global Distribution Systems (GDS) or New distribution Capacity (NDC) platforms can also lack coverage themselves, as well as being cost prohibitive in many instances and requiring lengthy multi-year contracts.

Price accurate direct hotel rates - is there a better solution? 

A number of leading meta search and travel aggregators are turning to new connectivity technology to solve the challenge of accessing direct rates. This new way of solving the problem is not reliant on hotels, for example, having API capability, or already integrating with existing solutions, such as GDS or NDC. It does not require hotels to create any type of integration and means, simply, that aggregators can access and display price accurate rates for any hotel that has a website. With the ability to access data and hoteliers' prices that were previously unavailable to them, aggregators can offer the best rates, accurate availability with no price discrepancies. This is empowering consumers to search, compare and book the best rates for their travel, improving their experience and the aggregators’ bottom line.

Exchanging many API integrations for one, aggregators can also significantly reduce integration complexity. With accurate prices and consumers finding the lowest prices, there will be less user drop-off ensuring aggregators can own the consumer journey, build loyalty and increase the volume of returning customers. 

Find out more on how UBIOs price accurate hotel data is helping aggregators improve customer experience and drive revenues. With over 100 million automations per month, our customers tell us that being able to display rates directly from the hotels themselves is improving customer experience and helping them to differentiate in the market all while maximising revenue.

Norman Begg
Head of Marketing