OTAs (Online Travel Agents) such as booking.com, hotels.com, laterooms.com etc aggregate prices and inventory from hotels onto a single website. This creates a great user experience as all hotels in a city can be quickly browsed and sorted on the one website. Without OTAs, users would have to trawl through every individual hotel's website. Once the user finds the hotel that (s)he wants to book, (s)he does so directly with the OTA ie the user transacts directly with the OTA, not the hotel. The OTA forwards the reservation fee minus their commission to the hotel. While hotels resent the high commissions charged by OTAs, they often rely on them for volume. Obviously hotels endeavour insofar as possible to limit their reliance on expensive OTAs.
Meta Search Engines on the surface look very similar to OTAs in that they provide users with a comprehensive, sortable list of hotel inventory in a given location. However, unlike OTAs, meta search engines do not actually sell hotel rooms. Rather, they charge hotels and OTAs on a cost per click basis to list their inventory on their websites.
OTAs buy this traffic, get the booking and then charge the hotel a commission that equates to many multiples of what it paid for the traffic. Savvy hotels don't allow this to happen. Rather they send their inventory directly to the meta search engines, buy the cheap traffic themselves on a CPC basis and so reduce their costs per acquisition versus allowing the OTAs buy the traffic at low cost and resell to the hotel at many multiples of this.
• Travel Republic
• Google Hotel Finder
• Trip Advisor