Working from our Google Hotel Ads overview, let’s now discuss why your hotel should consider running on this program.
1.) Increase Direct Bookings
The Google Hotel Ads program is unique in that it allows searchers a direct gateway into the booking engine, unlike most natural search or paid search results. The ads themselves are presented in the form of a room rate that links out to your property booking engine, forcing the visitor further into the booking funnel.
Organic search listing and traditional pay per click ads lead searchers to your hotel website, which isn’t a bad thing, but the farther down you can get someone right off the bat the better.
Additionally, it takes the searcher off the SERP which is full of other distractions (aka, competition).
By bidding for placement here, you can ensure that your property will get that “book now” direct traffic and that it won’t be lost to an OTA or other metasearch site.
Keep in mind that the Hotel Ads program is just one of many strategies that your hotel can employ to increase direct bookings but is one of the key ways to edge out OTAs and other search partners.
2.) OTAs Are Already There
Working off our previous answer, OTAs are already very present in this space and they aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. Major players like Priceline, Booking.com, Travelocity, and Expedia are just a few of the brand names that you can expect to find here.
So what? Good for them for spending their marketing budgets on placements here – what’s that got to do with me?
Well, sadly, everything. If you aren’t bidding for a top placement here, they are. Sure, you will still get that booking at the end of the day, but those OTA fees will slowly erode your bottom line. The few cents that you might pay Google for that direct click is better for your revenue stream than the high commission rate that you will inevitably pay the OTA if they get that booking for you.
3.) More SERP Space
In the search engine game, SERP territory is everything. The recent update that replaced the hotel carousel with the new “local three pack” (aka organic hotel finder results) shook the travel industry to its core. This new local format pushed all organic listings below the fold for many generic queries. This has several pros and cons.
This is what the above the fold search page now looks like:
Pros, in some eyes, are that OTAs and other big brand metasearch sites were pushed below the fold. Hooray! But, it also makes it that much harder to gain brand exposure for more generic, upper-funnel search terms since there is so little truly organic space left.
Participating in the program is a great way to grab searchers attention and drive them straight into your booking engine.
Have we said that enough yet?
4.) More Non-Brand Search Visibility
A huge area where the above is particularly helpful is for non-branded search queries. Before, it was next to impossible to get an individual property to rank for broad terms like “(insert random city) hotels”. Now, however, the tables have turned. Though only three “personalized” selections are shown on the actual SERP three-pack, a whole list of hotel results is presented with the “view more option”, giving your hotel way more non-brand exposure than they would have previously had.
And, if your hotel WAS getting non-brand exposure from these high search volume terms, it was most likely through a metasearch site or OTA, which we have already discussed is not ideal for your bottom line.
5.) Metasearch Is The New Way
Did you know that 36% of American travelers and a whopping 54% of Chinese travelers use metasearch sites to price shop for travel? And that number is only expected to go up. Additionally, guests often check 20+ sites when shopping and 60% of those begin the research on one device and complete the process on another device. The booking funnel keeps growing larger and larger and having a presence every step of the way is becoming more and more important.
People have options and they like to use them. Metasearch sites offer searchers convenience and flexibility. In fact, a recent TripAdvisor survey indicated that 50% of those surveyed agreed that the price comparison models that metasearch sites offer saves them time and energy, and this number is only expected to grow.
6.) It’s Here To Stay
Unfortunately for the stubborn, it doesn’t look like the Hotel Ads program is going anywhere any time soon. Google is pushing this product out rather aggressively and has restructured their entire search engine to incorporate it. Making that massive of a commitment means that they aren’t planning on pulling the plug any time soon.
The tides have changed and it’s time for hoteliers to hop on the boat and ride the wave. Why paddle against the current and insist that your property doesn’t need to bid when all the signs are so clear?
At the end of the day, your hotel can either sink or swim; meaning, you can either bid for placement or lose direct bookings. There’s no other way around it.
For more information on how the Google Hotel Ads program works or on how you can get setup and start bidding, contact Fuel today!