Think about the last time you booked a hotel. Did you go directly to the hotel website? Did you visit a local travel agency? No, you didn’t. You went to Google and conducted a search to do some comparison shopping. I’m sure this isn’t always the case, but more often than not Google is the place were travelers start their hotel booking process.
57% of leisure and business travelers claim they always start their travel booking process with search, according to a Google study by Ipsos MediaCT. Everyone I know discovers hotel options by hopping on a search engine, whether that be Google or Bing.
Google recently announced that they’re continuing to make the hotel booking process even more seamless for consumers and advertisers. “We’ve been evolving the way hotels appear in search results on Google to include more structured, relevant and dynamic information – like rates, availability, locations, user reviews, editorial descriptions, Google Street View, and high resolution photos,” says Google. They’re clearly not messing around!
Google just announced improvements to Hotel Ads, an advertising format exclusively for hotel marketers. Basically these ads show detailed information to compare hotels in a region right on the search results page. Check out the example below that I received when conducting a Google search for “hotels in Boston.” As you can see, each hotel displays information like prices, reviews and ratings, special offers, and photos.
When clicking “More hotels” I can see where each hotel is located on the map.
Hotel Ads aren’t completely new. Hilton’s been using this feature for their 4,200 hotels since 2011, and has seen ground-breaking results, with a 45% increase in conversion rate.
Hotel Ads might be old news, but Google continues to build upon the features offered to marketers, with a huge focus on engaging followers in a more visual manner. In February, Google improved their photo tools to allow hotels to easily change the image that appears when travelers are searching. They’ve also made it possible to add photos specifically for food and drinks, guest rooms, and common areas. This can all be done through one’s Google My Business account.
Another new feature Google has recently released is the ability to add top notch, interactive tours to give the searcher an inside look into the hotel’s interior. If I do say so myself, these tours are awesome! Who doesn’t want a sneak-360-degree-peak at a hotel they’ll be potentially escaping to? This is all done through Google Maps Business View. “These virtual tours show up on Search and Maps and let travelers experience the hotel – all before they book their stay.”
Hotel marketers need to connect with an authorized partner to take advantage of all of the features Google offers in order to gain the most exposure possible to their hotel. This is especially important for hotel marketers that operate smaller, less well-known hotels. The big guys are likely already running hotel ads, but the smaller guys might be missing out on some unique advertising opportunities.
So to get ahead of the game, make sure to do the following things:
What are you waiting for? Start drastically increasing hotel booking by using Google’s new features today. Before you know it, you’ll need to start building more rooms!
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