What comes to mind first when you think about online search? If you’re like most people, it’s Google. Most searches begin with a Google query today, with Bing, Yahoo!, and other search engines making up a very small percentage of the pie.
For the travel industry, Google searches are vital – it’s how travelers learn about the areas they want to visit, learn about sightseeing opportunities and attractions, and find hotels in the area. As you can imagine, it’s critical that you have a presence in the results for relevant travel-related searches. The good news is that Google can offer you a helping hand here.
Google Products You Need to Know About
Google is more than just a search engine. It’s also one of the largest advertising markets in the world. You’re probably familiar with some of their products, like Google Ads, but there are others you should know about.
Search has become so ubiquitous today that many people don’t really think of it as a product, but it is. Google search allows consumers to type in their query – hotels in San Francisco, for instance – and then peruse relevant (or not so relevant) results. This is the original way to get found through Google, and it remains a powerful driver.
With Google search, potential hotel guests can begin narrowing down their options. This is very “bottom of the funnel” stuff when they might be checking out the various neighborhoods and areas of a destination they’re going to visit. They can then move on to comparing different hotels, learning about restaurants, and more. Of course, there’s always the chance that they’ll end up clicking through to an OTA or to another platform. TripAdvisor is one of the most common destinations, but Google is doing more and more to keep consumers on the search page rather than sending them to another website.
Google Hotel Ads
Google Hotel Ads is the search engine’s version of Google Ads designed just for the hospitality industry. It works exactly the same way that Google Ads does, but is designed for hotels, resorts, and other accommodation providers. You also get the ability to show your latest rates and availability, add special room rates, and set loyalty member deals.
To use Google Hotel Ads, you’ll need to bid on keywords, such as your location. You can set your preferred commission, as well as the ROI you want, or bid. Google then goes to work to maximize leads and bookings, as well as deliver in-depth information to help you make better decisions for your business.
Google My Business
Google My Business offers you the chance to create a free listing for your hotel right on Google. These listings can include your hotel name, address, and even pictures of your rooms, your rates, and so much more. Why does this matter if you have your own website, though?
One thing to remember is that because most searches begin on Google, it makes sense to get your name in front of searchers as soon as possible. Today, that might not mean getting a link to your website as high up the search results as possible. Instead, it might mean getting them to your hotel’s business listing on Google right on the search page.
Creating a Google My Business listing is free and it offers a lot of benefits, particularly given the rise of mobile search and consumer preferences for local results. It can also connect your hotel with Google Maps, enhance your standing in search results, and even give you the chance to show why your property stands out.
Once upon a time, a consumer would type in their search request and then be shown a page of results, with the top two or three being ads. Today, ads dominate the top and bottom of the results page, with organic results sometimes appearing well below the fold. However, for the hospitality industry, there’s something else to be aware of: metasearch.
Essentially, metasearch gives consumers a way to compare prices for hotels they are considering without ever leaving Google. For instance, suppose you operated a hotel in Orlando, Florida. A consumer could search your hotel’s name and then be presented with a page that offered links to your website, directions to the hotel, your phone number, and more.
Below this information is a link to book a room, and below that are all the OTAs and their offers for rooms at your property. The challenge here is that you must have competitive rates with the OTAs or you’ll lose out on direct traffic because consumers can compare your in-house rates to deals with OTAs in a head-to-head fashion.
Free Booking Links
Finally, Google is now offering free booking links for hotels. According to Google itself, “with free booking links, your booking site can appear across Google when users search for hotels. You can connect with more travelers and drive more bookings at no cost”.
So, how do these links work? It’s pretty simple, actually (and it ties into the metasearch information we discussed above).
Let’s say that a consumer searches for your hotel name. They can then choose their itinerary. Your hotel information is displayed, as well as the room rate for the dates that the consumer has selected, along with a direct link to your booking page. There is no middleman here – consumers can click straight through to whatever landing page you provide, ensuring that you have complete control at no cost.
How do free booking links differ from existing hotel ads? There are a few differences. One of those should be obvious – ads are paid, but these links are free. Another difference is that ads are ranked by auction, but free hotel links are ranked based on their value to the consumer doing the searching.
How Does Hotelogix Fit In?
Currently, Google’s free booking links are powered not by Google itself, but by the search giant’s technology partners. Hotelogix is connected directly with some of the leading providers, including AxisRooms. That allows us to deliver greater flexibility to our clients while ensuring they can take advantage of Google’s free booking links.
We invite you to learn more about our industry-leading hotel management solution. Claim your free trial and see just how well our software can fit your hotel’s needs.