Where do the majority of travellers begin when planning their next trip? Google, of course! While the search engine has always been a significant element in most hotel owners’ marketing efforts, using search engine optimisation and other Google tools to ensure they stay at the top of search results, the power of Google Hotels is something the savvy property owner really can’t ignore. It really is changing the landscape of the traditional OTA (online travel agency) and giving hotel owners more control over the visibility of their property. Google Hotels (previously known as Google Hotel Ads and Google Hotel Finder) is now one of the most effective marketing channels for hotels and other property owners. So how can you best use it to grow your visibility and maximise your profit? Read on and we’ll tell you everything you need to know.
Google Hotels is a metasearch engine that collates hotels and holiday rentals search results from a variety of sources. When a traveller is looking for accommodation either in Google search or maps, an aggregated list is displayed showing the room rates listed on the various OTAs. It operates a PPC model so that Google paid listings appear at the top of the search with all other listings appearing underneath.
OTA’s can display your rates, availability and room types in these paid search results, with the option to book through them.
However, you do have the option of sending a customer directly to your website to book, but your website direct booking link will ONLY be displayed in these paid ad results if you have a connectivity partner such as HiRUM to connect to Google Hotels.
It also prominently features a reviews tab which enables travellers to easily view key elements that inform the booking decision making process all in one place.
Google Hotels works on a bidding model and there are a number of factors that will influence how much you pay. These include things such as how competitive the market is. So for example if you are in a big city with lots of other hotels competing for visibility on Google Hotels, your bid strategy will most certainly be different from hotels in smaller locations.
There are a number of options when it comes to bidding including ‘commissions per stay’, and ‘commissions per conversion’ but most hoteliers opt to pay on a cost per click basis. This means you only pay when someone clicks on your Google Hotels link and is taken to your booking portal.
The CPC model includes options for a fixed amount to be paid per click, or for a more flexible approach, where bids are automatically adjusted based on the likelihood of attracting a booking.
Many property owners are initially put off adopting this channel as setting up an effective Google Hotel campaign can be complex. For this reason Google recommends using one of its select network of integration partners to help you get started.
Firstly you’ll need to ensure you have a Google Business Profile.
You’ll then need a connectivity partner to facilitate the upload of your inventory and availability. Using a Channel Manager ensures that you can connect to all the OTAs as well as Google Hotels with real-time availability of your rooms and accurate room rates.
A Google Hotel list feed relies on 3 main pieces of data:
The property listing feed is an XML file that contains details of all the properties that you wish to have listed including name, address and phone number.
Obviously, properties wanting to take advantage of the instant booking facility need to have a direct booking tool available on their website.
Once established, your direct to property link will be tagged as the “official website” to help your booking form stand out from those third party resellers who are also advertising your inventory.
To give yourself the best chance to compete with the OTAs we highly recommend that you supply Google with as much relevant information as possible. Add lots of high-quality photos of your property, and ensure that the description and amenities on your Google My Business page are up to date and accurate. In addition, it’s really important to monitor guest reviews as these are prominently displayed in Google Hotel listings.
So how can Google Hotels help to deliver you more profit?
Because Google is likely to be the very first place travellers will look for information about their preferred destinations, having your property appear in the hotel listings as soon as they type in their destination means you will capture their attention right at the beginning of their booking journey. It’s a great way to significantly increase your visibility amongst potential guests.
Another major benefit of the Google Hotels initiative is that bookings can actually be made directly with you via your website booking link. The platform offers a seamless portal for guests to find your property easily and efficiently. Being on Google Hotels ensures you compete effectively with the OTAs and give yourself the best opportunity to win more direct bookings, avoid OTA commission fees and increase your profitability and occupancy.
When you drive more direct bookings you also get the additional benefit of owning all the customer data. This enables you to develop a strong relationship with the guest from the beginning with the opportunity for you to upsell to the guest prior to arrival and to seamlessly communicate with them without the need to go through a third-party OTA.
Watching the conversion on Google Hotels grow so much over the last year, it’s clear that this is the place to be if you want to benefit from no risk, no upfront cost, more direct bookings and greater profitability.
Google has partnered with a select network of integration partners across the globe to provide direct connectivity to Google Hotels. HiRUM is proud to be one of the partners chosen by Google, enabling us to list your property directly on this powerful platform.
If greater profitability in your business drives you, then don’t delay and call us today so that you too can be an early adopter of the change that is happening right now.
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