Why Hoteliers Should Invest in Google Hotel Ads

Since their introduction in the mid-90’s, OTAs have played an important role in driving customers to hotels they might not have found on their own. In their early days, OTAs were celebrated as a great channel for helping to put heads in beds. Today they present a risk for hoteliers who pay them a handsome fee for each booking and often compete, unsuccessfully, for the same search terms.

Today, according to PhoCusWright, OTAs capture 39% of the US online digital booking market. And will reach 41% by 2020, with US$81.4 million in online gross bookings. For hoteliers worried about this trend and looking to drive direct bookings, Google Hotel Ads provides a great opportunity to take advantage of search traffic and get a leg up on OTAs.

While Google has had specialized ad products for hoteliers since 2010, with sponsored hotel prices in Google Maps, today Google Hotel ads spans both Google.com and Google Maps, helping travelers browse hotels on mobile devices and spot hotel deals. According to Google, in the first six months of 2018, the number of leads to partners grew 65 percent year over year.

Let’s look at why Google Hotel Ads are so successful.

When travelers are doing trip research, they might search the name of a hotel, or they might do a search for hotels in the city they are planning to visit. If they Google the name of the hotel, as I did for Fairmont San Francisco, they will see this result in Google. Because Fairmont has purchased Hotel Ads, the first listing is theirs and links directly to their booking engine. If they didn’t have the ad, the first link would certainly be an OTA. With pricing parity, the first listing will likely get the click so you want to be there.

The same is true when a potential guest searches ‘hotels in San Francisco.’ Google returns a map, including hotel locations and prices. Google Hotel Ads buyers can appear in the immediate results, as you see below.

But many guests will likely use the sorting tools to find the best hotel for their needs.

If you appear in the results, as a match for a guest’s needs, you want to make sure that they book directly with you, and not an OTA. For your listing to come up first, you need to be a Google Hotel Ads customer.

Hoteliers that want to use Google Hotel Ads need a technology provider, like Sabre or FastBooking, to provide Google with 3 data feeds: Hotel Listing Feed, Price & Availability Feed, and Point of Sale Feed. This technical requirement may be the reason why we see adoption for bigger brands and groups but less adoption for independent hotels and small groups.

Competing with OTAs isn’t easy. They have huge digital budgets and specialize in digital marketing. They only have to worry about getting the booking versus hotels that have to worry about getting the booking and providing guests with an exceptional experience. But you can’t win unless you compete and Google Hotel Ads is a great place to start.

To learn more, visit Google’s online information center.

Google Map Changes for Hotels – Getting to the Bottom of What You Need to Know

Saying that a hotel is a retail business is like saying that French Laundry is a place to grab a bite to eat. There’s so much more to hotels than the bricks and mortar that makes up the space. Google gets that: Look no further than Google Maps for proof. Whereas hotels used to be treated like other places, they are now uniquely positioned and given the special attention they deserve with features that guests need when evaluating a place to stay, such as price, ability to book, read reviews, etc.

I read a couple of articles about the changes to Google Maps before starting this article and when I brought up Google maps on my phone and my computer I realized, unsurprisingly, that some of what I had read wasn’t true for me. Google, which maintains a strong test and optimize culture, is undoubtedly seeing what works and what doesn’t work with the new layout so I might be in the experiment group or the control group and there’s no way to know.

My experience in the Firefox Browser was different than Safari on desktop.

In Firefox, I could access reviews by OTA.

On Safari, I just saw overall review scores and when I drilled down I could only read Google reviews.

In addition, Safari displayed highlights, icons about the hotel that serve to help me know what I can expect. Highlights didn’t show up for me in Firefox.

Google is a company that embodies the spirit of optimization. They are constantly working to improve engagement and conversion with everything they do, whether it’s search results, ads or business listings. Don’t expect this to be the last update. Change is one of the only constants with Google.

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