I recently started a new job working at trivago as their B2B spokesperson for the United States. trivago is the world’s largest hotel metasearch, helping travelers find their ideal hotel at the best available rate. Since I started working there, I have found myself thinking many times that most people probably do not know what metadata is, and therefore do not know what is metasearch or why they should care. So let me take a moment to explain what this term means and how these tools can save you loads of time and money.

Related Post: 20 Essential Travel Apps

Since I am working at trivago, I should mention that this post is not a sponsored post, the content is my own, as are any opinions expressed here.

So then, what is this mystical metasearch I speak of? In this modern internet-of-things world it is so cliche to refer to “the Uber of ___” or “the Google of ___.” As metasearch sites are indeed internet search sites, it might be tempting to refer to them as some nature of “the Google of ___,” but this would be a mistake, unless you said, “the Google of… well… Google!” You see, search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo search the internet’s content. Metasearch engines search the data from search engines. Simply put, metasearch allows you to search across multiple search sites simultaneously.

In the following, I will explain a bit about how metasearch works. I will focus on travel metasearch sites, and I will show you how these sites save you loads of time and money.

Metadata Explained

Metadata is all of the behind the scenes data which make the Internet the Internet. Metadata can be the snippet of code which identifies the location of an image file on a server, the description of a link, or the price of a service. You may have seen this before if ever you have received an email which has images, but your mail client does not display the images automatically. Maybe there is just an empty image placeholder box and a small bit of text describing what that image is. This description text tells search engines what that photo is of, and also helps users who are visually impaired have a better internet experience by giving the photo a description which can be read out loud by software to those users.

Please forgive the nerd in me that despite my best judgement will now show you a really boring (but instructive) workflow chart.


metasearch explained in a chart

source: Jakob Voss

In the chart above, you can see that all of the world’s information exists on many servers. This network is called the World Wide Web. Search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo, untangle this web by indexing, or pre-searching, all of the web’s content and making it easy to find. Metasearch tools index these search engine results and helps users find the best results from each service all at one time. As I will describe next, this becomes really helpful when shopping for travel online.

Metasearch Travel Sites

Let’s say for example that you want to book a flight, because let’s face it, you DO want to book a flight, right? To book a flight, you can go to the booking sites of every airline and look for schedules and prices, but this would take you a very long time and undoubtedly leave you without a comprehensive overview of all the options available. The better tool to use in this case is a metasearch which specializes in flights, like Skyscanner (iOS | Android). Skyscanner searches more than 1,200 airline and travel sites all with one click! They display to you the cheapest flights available which match your search, and then pair you with the best deals on the internet. Thus, saving you loads for time and money on your flight purchase.

trivago (iOS | Android) operates in a similar fashion but is focused solely on hotels. trivago searches more than 250 hotel booking sites around the world and instantly shows travelers the best available rates for properties which best meet their needs. A quick search on trivago will show you that the same room on the same night will have a variety of prices depending on which site you book that room with. trivago empowers travelers to quickly search the whole internet to find their ideal room and book it at the very best rate.

Hospitality.net reported that before metasearch sites became prevalent, the savvy traveler was searching as many as 22 bookings sites before making a purchase. As you can see, metasearch  saves you loads of time and money. 

Metasearch Sites By Industry

Here are some examples of travel metasearch sites as well as a few which are not metasearch sites. I have categorized them by the travel sectors with which they work.

In Closing

Do you use any of the metasearch tools I mentioned here? Other metasearch site or apps? Do you find them useful, or do you find them to be an unnecessary extra layer of the internet? Please let me know your thoughts in the comments below, or you can reach me directly at @JudsonLMoore.

featured photo credit Tim Gouw.