To book a hotel, the majority of customers open Google instead of going directly to the hotel website or to a local travel agency. Though this is not always the case, Google is considered to be the primary destination for travelers to start their hotel booking process.
Google began to seriously pay attention to the hotel industry in June 2014, when it announced its new feature called “Google My Business” which allowed hotels to easily improve their presence on Google. And it didn’t stop just there: Google has recently introduced some improvements to Google Hotel Ads, an advertising format that is exclusively created for hotel marketers.
Basically, these ads show detailed hotel information, which makes it easier for travelers to compare different hotels right from the search results page. Below is the search result you will get when you search for “hotels in New York”. As you can see, each hotel displays their most pertinent information like prices, reviews/ratings, special offers and photos.
Though Google Hotel Ads are not brand new, as Hilton has already seen 45 % increase in conversion rates since 2011, there are some new features offered to marketers, with a huge focus on engaging users in a more visual manner:
In February, photo tools were improved, so hotels can now easily change the images that appear when travelers make a search. In addition, more photos for foods/drinks, guest rooms and common areas can be added. All of this can be done through the user’s Google My Business account.
Another great feature is that hotels can add top-notch, interactive, 360-degree tours that give travelers a look into the hotel’s interior. Such virtual tours show up on Search and Maps and let guests experience the hotel, get answers to all of their questions regarding aesthetics and layout before they book their room.
Moreover, Google has added more detailed information about the hotel amenities. For example, now you can see whether a particular hotel has wi-fi, a swimming pool, parking, gym access, business facilities, complimentary breakfast and so on. Though this feature is only available for US locations, Google is planning to add this feature for 24 more countries.
Google makes it far easier for guests to make reservations directly from the Google interface instead of clicking and entering the hotel’s own website. This is called Google Instant Booking. Though, when it was launched in 2013 it was only available for mobile devices, it is now accessible from desktop and tablet devices.
Just like with TripAdvisor’s instant booking features, Google also sends reservation confirmation emails to the hotel. This greatly differs from standard practice with most OTAs, who fight with hotels for their customers and charge enormous commissions. Google recently announced that the instant booking feature is offered to all Google Hotel Ads partners and at present works for US users on mobile and desktop devices.
Now that you understand how beneficial Hotel Google Ads can be for your business, let us go over step-by-step how you should get started with using Google Hotel Ads:
Create a Google My Business page: To make use of Google Hotel Ads, you need to first of all have a Google Business account. Here are the 5 simple steps by HubSpot that will help you setup your Google My Business page.
Optimize Google Maps: Google Maps is not just about visibility; it’s about positioning. If used correctly it can play a critical role in your hotel’s marketing strategy and can dramatically increase your number of bookings. Here is a great guide by Wordstream on Google Maps Marketing.
Connect with an authorized partner: In order to get started with Google Hotel Ads, your hotel needs to connect with one of the authorized partners of Google. If you have any questions Google is there to guide you through the integration process.
Sign up for Google Business View: Google Business View helps your hotel create indoor tours for guests before they finalize their reservation. According to Google, virtual tours help double customer interest in business listings. Among 18-34 year-olds in particular, prospects are 130 % more likely to book lodgings based on a virtual tour. Here is where you need to sign up.
Use only high-definition photos/videos: As we already noted, visuals are crucial for the success of hotels. You need to make sure that the photos and videos that you are publishing are in HD, and are shot using a professional photographer, with knowledge of lighting, angle, depth, etc. Professional visuals will be well worth the extra investment.
Showcase special offers/discounts: Let’s think for a moment: what makes your hotel unique and different from others? Why should a traveler book your hotel instead of the other one down the street? Highlight any unique benefits you provide to make your hotel the most attractive in the area for potential guests.
So, what are you waiting for? Start increasing your hotel’s direct bookings by using Google Hotel Ads. If you are already making use of these awesome features, let us know about your success stories in the comments below.