New in 2019: Changes to Hotel Marketing with Google
- Posted by Jessica Weissman
- On July 9, 2019
The Travel, Tourism & Hospitality Industry is one of the largest in the world – contributing more than 7.6 trillion dollars to the global economy even in 2016 according to Statista.
Digital advertising spends within the industry are on the rise, expected to reach over 9 billion dollars in 2019.
Google is no stranger to this information, and they have taken the opportunity in the last couple of years to vie as a leading player in the space.
We’ve outlined the recent upgrades as they relate specifically to hotel marketing below, and attempt to explain what these changes may mean for property teams considering their next digital marketing strategy.
New Hotel Pricing Chart in SERP
Most recently, Google moved its hotel pricing chart into the search engine results page (SERP). Through testing, Google found that the chart was a popular feature amongst users and, thus, it has been moved directly into the search engine results page for better visibility.
Below is an example of a hotel search for ‘The Jacquard Hotel Denver’ with the price chart displaying prominently at the top of the SERP.
The price chart displays directly below the first organic listing – and metasearch results still display to the right. The price chart is interactive and allows users to scroll left and right through pricing history for easy shopping comparison.
After clicking a date/price, the user is brought to the new “Google Hotel Search” property landing page where they can book through metasearch listings, the property website, or in some cases, directly through Google. Here is an example of the Google Hotel Search property landing page for The Jacquard linked from the pricing chart.
New Hotel Search & Booking Site
In March 2019, Google released its new hotel search and booking site – Google Flights and Hotels – offering a convenient one-stop shop to book hotels and flights. This new tool allows consumers to adjust different variables applicable to their travel plans and see highlights, photos, reviews, deals, and other features of a property that help them plan efficiently.
Most notably, it allows consumers to track and compare hotel prices across different destinations and dates – just like Google Flights.
Consolidated Travel Planning Tool
Last month at Google Marketing Live in San Francisco, Google announced another development for travel planning called Trips.
The goal of Trips is, again, to consolidate and simplify the travel planning process for consumers. It also exists in order to allow marketers and advertisers to reach consumers, you guessed it, more efficiently.
It is available for both mobile and desktop and features options to explore attractions, flights, hotels, and packages. “Our aim here is to help users connect the dots, organize their trip information better and make trip planning easier. And that creates more leads and more opportunities for you to connect with those users in their moment of intent,” said Oliver Heckmann, VP of Engineering, Shopping and Travel at Google, during his Ads Innovation keynote.
Vacation Rentals added to Hotel Search
Within hotel search, Google also recently released vacation rentals listings for both mobile and desktop.
With this new tool, consumers are able to filter and browse through short-term rentals via Google hotel search instead of just seeing standard hotel accommodations. This feature is only available to suppliers or direct listing sites with at least 20,000 units and the budget to support such a large inventory.
These stipulations make the feature unavailable to resort and hotel properties. So, what does this all mean, then?
Hotel and resort marketing teams will soon start to see increased competition within Google hotel search not only from an inventory standpoint, but a price comparison and brand visibility view.
New Hotel Local Pack
One of the first changes to Google’s hotel and travel features, released in November 2018, was Google’s new Hotel Local Pack. Local Pack displays within the search engine results page of hotel searches. The new Hotel Local Pack mimics the design of the Google Flights and Hotels tool. The new update included showing four hotels in the list instead of just three, plus a “new carousel at the top to filter by top choices, guest favorites, budget options and more”.
How Hotels Can (Should!) Take Advantage
While it may appear that Google’s recent (and rapid) development of travel-related features could come as a threat to hotels and resorts, it is important to know that there are many ways for hospitality marketing teams to take advantage of these updates – and see a positive return.
Google is capturing an increasing share of consumer traffic and conversion data, but the question is – how do you then capture this data for your resort or hotel directly from Google?
The best way to make this happen is by combining a solid organic Google strategy with metasearch bidding. Make sure your hotel ads and listings are showing up in these new features in order to gain the attention of the consumer in the right place at the right time, as they are planning travel.
- Make sure your Google My Business (GMB) profile is up to date and complete. This will help your property show most often in organic search results on the SERP and on the new hotel search properties where applicable.
- Get your direct price in the mix while consumers are planning their trip using the new features listed above. Metasearch bids will allow your hotel to show in Google hotel search and other new tools where organic listings don’t play a part (areas that you see the ‘ad’ designation). Bidding against OTAs in metasearch will make sure that you are getting the conversion from Google directly instead of paying an OTA for that conversion.
If you’re interested in implementing any of these new features or strategies into your digital marketing mix, reach out to the team here at Screen Pilot to get started!
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