You’ve already seen ads for hotels on Google and other search engines. They look just like other search engine results: a line of text without much in the way of bells and whistles. They appear at the top of a search and are generally marked as ads.
Google is about to change everything about how hotels advertise on its search engine platform. Look forward to Google Hotel Ads: a new Google service that will promote your hotel, give all necessary information about it, and let your guests book by hitting one simple button.
The information Google will give customers about your hotel includes price comparisons between OTAs and even certain date ranges. They’ll see pictures and your hotel’s immediate geographical area right off the bat. Conversion rates are reportedly sky-high. Hotel Àmbit of Barcelona has seen an over 2000% return on its investment in Google Hotel Ads since beginning its use.
But if we know anything about hospitality technology, we know that any innovation changes the entire scene. How’s Google Hotel Ads switching up the hospitality business? Read on to find out.
Customer data is about to get even more important
If you thought targeted advertising was important before now, but were ignoring it because it’s difficult, then it’s time to sit up and take notice. Google Hotel Ads will pop up for customers who Google thinks would like your hospitality. Danielle Gonzalez, VP of Hospitality at IgnitionOne, recommends knowing your customers very, very well. Using marketing tools just isn’t optional anymore. Most of your customers already look for hotels on Google first. Your presence on Google Hotel Ads could be the difference between a full room and an empty one.
That means that you’ll need to bid for your target audience. This amazing AdEspresso article will tell you a bit about how the process of getting a Google Hotel Ad actually works.
OTA dependence will decrease
If you’ve ever railed about unfair OTA terms, then you might rejoice at the rapid success of Google Hotel Ads. Through Google Hotel Ads, your hospitality can take a direct booking. Google will route the guest through the ad to your website where, if you’ve followed my web design advice, you can quickly and easily convert them. Better yet, Google Hotel Ads will display your price next to the ones listed for your rooms by several OTAs.
That said, there’s a catch: you still need to pay a commission for this service. Google will take 12%-15% in commission, even though they don’t handle the booking itself. Obviously, that’s not ideal, and plenty of people will feel like we’re just replacing one OTA with another. However, consider this: there are tons of OTAs out there, but everyone’s going to Google. If your ad’s not appearing there, it almost doesn’t matter if you’re on Booking.com or one or two other sites like it. Furthermore, you’ll pay a commission only for confirmed bookings.
Guests may find you through Google Maps
Google Hotel Ads will appear in Google Maps as well as in Google’s search results. As Erica Rich
points out at Revinate, people who plan a trip to an area might well hop over to Google Maps before they think to do a search for hotels. Then, while they’re there, they may end up searching for places to stay, at which point, they’ll be able to book at one of several hotels at will.
Since potential guests will be able to see both your price and your location in relation to your competitors, you’ll need to be very aware of what other hospitalities in your area are offering. If you’re selling rooms at a higher price, you’ll need to stand out some other way, possibly by offering extras that aren’t available elsewhere or targeting specific markets.
Your pictures will convert people
What does Google Hotel Ads have that a search result doesn’t? Pictures. Lots of pictures. External shots of your business will appear most prominently, followed
by a Google Street View image of your area. You’ll be able to add more images through which customers can easily click. I cannot stress enough how important your pictures will be to your conversion rates. Use them to highlight your unique selling point, your extras, your luxurious rooms, and your excelsior service. Remember, people only absorb 10% of what they read, but 65% of what they see in a picture. Take it from Michael Del Gigante at MDG Advertising. Their amazing infographic on the subject can teach hoteliers much about the use of images in our marketing.
Now is a great time to freshen up your pictures and make sure that your hospitality is in tip-top visual shape.
Accurate, up-to-date hotel information will be more important than ever
Going forward, it will be a cinch for guests to compare your prices to other hospitalities in your area. However, Google will also indicate when you have a deal on and how beneficial that deal may be to your guests when your future rates might be lower than your competitors, and other useful information. The key to taking advantage of this is to keep your information as up to date as possible.
Google Hotel Ads relies on filters for a number of factors, including amenities like air conditioning, free breakfast, and kid-friendliness. Make sure and hit as many of those boxes as you can to attract the maximum number of views.
Google Hotel Ads is here to stay. It’s time to leap right into this new style of advertising…before your competitors get the jump on you.
If you want more info, check out this video of a talk I gave on Google Hotel Ads just last year. For personal advice, email me.
I have created a free, 5-step email guide to help you increase your direct bookings! Click here to get your copy.