Travel search engines have been warned the more expensive they become, the more advertisers will shift their spend elsewhere.
During a panel debate at the EyeforTravel conference in Berlin, Hilton International director of channel development Ivan Imhoff said: "We speculate they [Google, Overture and Yahoo] are all going to be more expensive and you will see advertisers shifting their money elsewhere."
Rather than constantly outbidding rivals to be listed at the top on search engine listings, Imhoff urged companies to look at the lower positions.
"I'd rather have 20, 30 or even 40 11th positions than being in first place. Don't accept some of the excrutiating bid costs that some of these guys are asking for," he said.
Predictably, Overture UK category development director Nick Jones defended the search engines. He said rates for cost per clicks were lower now than they were a year ago and urged advertisers not to feel threatened.
"Customers do their searches on the Internet because they want choice. Until people stop wanting to search for 500 companies and just want the choice of two, then we'll continue to offer it."