More chaos in the purchase funnel – meta-meta travel search
Just as suppliers are trying to get closer to customers and almost everyone seems to lament the number of websites they have to visit before booking……. meta-meta search sticks it’s oar in.
The idea is simple – a site which searches all the other travel metasearch engines to display the cheapest fares in a, err, metasearch style.
When a user clicks on their preferred fare they are sent off to the metasearch site, where they then select the offer to be taken to the supplier or OTA’s site.
Got it? But it would never work, right?
Cheap Flights Finder (decent enough domain name) is one such service, which on first look appears to be similar to many of the affiliate-link laden sites splattered across the web, trying to draw some more of the marketing funds out from suppliers.
But while it appears in some respects to be just yet another layer in the search and purchase funnel, both consumers and the metas at least appear to see it as a model worth having.
Why? Because the site is not wacky startup – it has actually been around for over four years and has recently relaunched (part of its PR was to highlight apparent inadequacies with Google’s efforts in flight search).
CEO Shah Sid says the company has grown year-on-year, despite some early setbacks when one of the biggest metasearch sites in the UK, TravelSupermarket, reacted angrily to very idea of meta-meta search and axed to cut off.
So there must be some money in this model, then?
Sid says it manages to get anything between £0.15 and £1 for every click it sends back to the metasearch engines.
Obviously it does not have a commercial deal with every one of the sites it searches (Google? Of course not), but it has agreements with the likes of Skyscanner, Dohop and EasyVoyage amongst others.
These are click deals. But it also has CPA (cost-per-acquisition) partnerships with some OTAs for multi-city, business class and package deals.
Fascinating model. And appears to have worked for some time (although suspect it’s a relatively low resource operation). The question is whether consumers REALLY care about yet another pillar to pass on the way to securing a booking or whether they actually REALLY notice.
Kevin May is a senior editor and one of the co-founders at Tnooz. He was previously editor of UK-based magazine Travolution and web editor of Media Week UK from 2003 to 2005.
He has worked in regional newspapers (Essex Enquirer) and started his career in journalism at the Police Gazette at New Scotland Yard in London. He has a degree in criminology, a postgraduate diploma in magazine journalism and will be publishing his first book - a biography about electronic band, Depeche Mode - soon.