Case Study

Online Hotel Metasearch Engine Stops Scraping Attacks

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Company

This online hotel metasearch engine was founded in 2005 and headquartered in Sydney, Australia. The site operates in more than 42 languages and handles 130 different currencies, aggregating more than two million deals through partnerships with numerous online travel agencies and hotel chains. It allows users to search and compare hotel rates in one search and provides a conglomerate summary of hotel reviews and ratings from external sites.

Head of DevOps

Hotel Metasearch Engine
“With HUMAN, our conversation rate of look-to-book search to booking went up about 20% almost instantaneously.”
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Challenge

The hotel metasearch engine has more than 10,000 domains pointed to their infrastructure, allowing multiple points of entry for bot attacks. The site was plagued by web scraping bots, and their traffic data was unreliable for making business decisions. This made it impossible to negotiate optimal rates with their suppliers and pass those rates onto customers, which put them at risk of losing out to competitors.

The company attempted to build their own solution to stop bots from scraping their website content. This was a massive undertaking, requiring significant time and resources to analyze traffic statistics and tune detection algorithms. The solution struggled to keep up with the ever-changing and increasingly sophisticated bot threats. It couldn’t distinguish good bots from bad bots, nor control various regions of identified bad traffic problems.


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Solution

The company knew they needed to buy a solution rather than continue to drain development resources in the attempt of building a home grown solution. HUMAN Bot Defender was the clear choice:
  • Comprehensive coverage: Bot Defender accurately identifies and blocks scraping bots on web and mobile apps and APIs, while still recognizing and facilitating the metasearch engine’s white label affiliates.
  • No infrastructure change required: The company did not want to add any more layers to their infrastructure and needed a system that could handle their extensive list of languages. Bot Defender can be deployed anywhere within the existing infrastructure—no changes required.
  • Security expertise and support: Bot Defender provided proactive support for scraping attacks with ongoing development, support and expertise. HUMAN offers best-in-class, always available support from a team of experts via Slack, email, or phone.

RESULTS

Bot Defender yielded many positive results: 

  • Increased look-to-book ratio by 20%: Bot Defender separated out bot traffic, allowing the company to stop counting scraping bots—which looked, but didn’t book—in their conversion data.
  • Increased Marketing ROI: In one incident, the company saw a traffic spike and assumed a malicious attack. They were prepared to impose a rate-limiting maneuver, but held off because Bot Defender assured them that the traffic was legitimate. As a result, the company generated a 700% increase in leads and 360% increase in bookings—which they would have lost out on without Bot Defender’s insights.
  • Reduced infrastructure costs and optimized efficiency: The hotel metasearch engine saw a 20% reduction in server usage, enabling two more years of growth without additional costs. Additionally, time and resources spent on building and maintaining an internal system were eliminated.
  • Improved decision making: The hotel metasearch engine could rely on its web traffic data to negotiate better rates with suppliers and inform strategic business decisions.

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