5 years ago

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.

It searches the usual suspects of the metasearch world such as Skyscanner, Kayak, Fly.com, Momondo, Dohop, Mobissimo et al. Newbie Google Flight Search is also in the list of 16 metasearch engines.

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.

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Kevin May

About the Writer :: Kevin May

Kevin May was a co-founder and member of the editorial team from September 2009 to June 2017.



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  1. Anton

    Actually, this is the site that we’ve been working on for past month or so. Though, we tried to offer cleaner interface and much wider choice of sites. We are just starting up, but looking into adding much more sites to search at. Nevertheless, we try to make it easy for the user and filter all sites – so the user will search only sites that can provide the best value and cheapest air ticket.

    It’s still in early beta, but I would love you can check it out and give us your opinion: http://www.wayanyway.com



  2. Peggy Lee

    As a consumer, this is EXACTLY what I have been looking for.

  3. Amit

    I like the idea. I love to create a website like this.

  4. Jonathan Meiri

    Finding new ways to slice and dice the already razor thin margins in Air bookings will not create value for travel suppliers nor for consumers.

    I think that many consumers would intuitively say that cheeper is better, but most would agree that the cheapest ticket doesn’t always provide the best value.

    Most users would be inclined to spend more if it increased their chance for an upgrade, on time schedule or personal preference for a particular type of plane. Racking up miles for the next elite status is also a key consideration for many frequent fliers.

    I hope to see more companies innovating on that front.

    Jonathan Meiri
    CEO Superfly.com

  5. Martin

    OTA are being used by many as a rate comparison tool because they are simple to use. What many rate comparers do wrong is to show all options whereas the user just wants the best option. Hotel Finder isn’t doing it right either as they arent giving the best option but the option of the one who pays most, thus users will loose trust in site eventually.
    Rate comparison sites are a must for hotels and as Patrick points out the crazy 20% model is a fail from launch.
    PPC is the way to go and it gives small hotels and OTAs a level playing field.
    Keep creating these sites. 🙂

    • Patrick Landman

      Patrick Landman


      I dont think PPC is the way forward at all.

      CPA, performace based is more logical. But at reasonable percentages.

      I dont like paying for referals, regardsless of the industry. I will pay for sales results.

      PPC does not level the playing field. It comes down who is bidding the most for traffic / referrals.

      CPA is the way of the future. I would pay 10% for my hotels to be on meta-search sites directly.

      Patrick @ Xotels

      • Geert-Jan Brits

        @Patrick – are you aware of any affiliate network or other platform that could regulate this type of CPA?

        I mean normally the retailer, in this case the hotel, would have an account setup at, say, Tradedoubler to which affiliates can sign-up. I.e: The retailer is in control of the account.

        This model seems troublesome for the type of CPA you’re suggesting: All hotels need separate TradeDoubler (or similar) accounts for the sole purpose of setting up a relation with one particular affiliate. Moreover, the affiliate would need to sign-up with potentially thousands of those accounts, 1 for each hotel.

        For this particular case it should be the other way around IMO. A particular big affiliate should be able to setup an account to which hotels could subscribe.

        Any ‘reverse’ affiliate networks that you’re aware of that allow this?


        • Martin - TravelDaily.de

          what you describe reads like a switch – hotels pay a 10% CPA, otherwise known as commission…

          • Patrick Landman

            Patrick - Xotels

            don’t get to hung up on terminology, what is important is identifying which economic and commercial business is most effective …

            With CPA or commission, hotels avoid the risk of getting low or no-quality traffic. It becomes the channels responsibility.

            Don’t pay for shoppers who are just browsing around and don’t know what they want or if they even want to go to your destination.

            Do pay for shoppers who buy.

            It’s common sense.

            The channels need to take the responsibility for the quality of the traffic and should only charge when there is a sale.

          • Martin - TravelDaily.de

            i am totally on the same page, patrick.

            i just wanted to show geert-jan that there are already such “networks” out there.

            the problem with such a switch model is scale and how to reach it.

          • Geert-Jan Brits

            @Martin – Thanks. I’m aware of what it’s called.

            “hotels pay a 10% CPA, otherwise known as commission” .

            I was referring to any known affiliate networks, or whatever you like to call them, (similar to TradeDoubler) that could help in facilitating this process.

            I.e: regulating the signing up process, providing dashboard for analytics, collecting the commission payments from the hotels, providing tracking scripts for the hotel-sites to embed.

            If you know of any, I’d love to hear.

      • Martin

        CPC is broken if you’re not tracking the bookings. Track the bookings and suddenly it’s just a question of putting your money where the bookings come from. CPC with booking tracker = CPA and that CPA suddenly costs only a couple of EUR instead of dozens or even hundreds.

        • Hedwig Wassing

          @Martin, Correct, but the risk is still with the merchant. We have been running a great many CPC campaigns over the past 7 years and few are able to meet the average CPA percentage. Meanwhile you need to invest quite some time (=money) to experiment and monitor. Close, but not close enough, I would say.

  6. More chaos in the purchase funnel – meta-meta travel search | AI SEO Group

    […] More chaos in the purchase funnel – meta-meta travel search 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 … Read more on Tnooz […]

  7. Hedwig Wassing

    @Patrick. Right on the dot!

  8. Patrick Landman

    Patrick Landman

    I like the idea, it is time the newly established order gets challenged.

    I heard through the grapevine for instance that Hotelscombined is asking hotels 20% for linking ther website rates and be included in the search results. Those kind of numbers are preposterous.

    Too many travel sites are aggresively going after penetrating the revenue levels of the end product, not even considering that profitability of their providers is key to success of the market. These practices will lead to the same erosian of the product quality level as caused by Tour Operators in previous decades.

    They want to creat cheap, highly profitable (for the channel, not the product provider) mass product. It is a destructive approach.

    Instead they should perhaps focus on increasing efficiency, conversion and customer retention.

    To avoid concentration of negotation power, the market needs to be continuously shaken up.

    I did some searches formlong haul flights and was impressed to see up to €1.000 difference in price. So there surely is space formthis model in the market.

    I looked at their hotel model but did not find the UI very friendly though.

    Hope the will succeed, but they still have a lot of work to do.

    • Shah

      Thanks for your well wishes Patrick,

      Yes, our hotel search needs a bit of work (it is not our primary focus at the moment) – but your point is taken and we will be updating soon.

      Glad you found the flight search helpful,

      Best regards,

      Shah Sid – CEO Cheapflightsfinder.com

      • Yuriy

        Gents, you all say its good for user and/or industry, but how that will affect OTAs, look to book ratio with the GDS? Most of OTAs participate in several metasearch engines, so ltb ration will double/triple/quadriple? Some of them try to use smart cash of the results to improve ltb, but this effects accurasy of results for the consumer.
        Made a comparison – local OTA is 6 pounds cheaper, that around 5%. Standard comission on Russian market varies from 1.5 to 3% depending on volume of bookings provided, so you make your own conclusion.

  9. SearchCap: The Day In Search, July 6, 2012 - Google Search SEO

    […] More chaos in the purchase funnel – meta-meta travel search, Tnooz […]


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