Billions of searches by people planning holidays and looking for accommodation are carried out every day. What if they didn’t need to leave the search page? What if everything they needed to find and book was right there? Search engine giant, Google, is providing the opportunity to do just that with its Google Hotel Ads Commission Program.
What is the Google Hotel Ads Commission Program?
If you take a look at the results for hotels you can see that there are options to book directly with the accommodation directly from the search in some cases. Sound familiar? That rather well known travel user review site, Tripadvisor, has already added this feature. So does this new development mean that Google is an now online travel agency ? Well apparently not. Experts suggest that Google won’t want to lose the advertising (cost per click) revenue it receives from the OTAs. So although the Google Hotel Ads Commission Program will take a commission of around 15% like an OTA, it doesn’t handle the client booking or communication, leaving the customer service element with the accommodation provider. Google has modified its Hotel Ads service to allow hotels to use this Google Hotel Ads Commission Program as an alternative to the cost per click system. The commission kicks in when an actual reservation is made via Google.
How can smaller hotel chains and independent hotels benefit?
Unlike bookings made through an OTA, Google Hotel Ads Commission Program gives the accommodation provider the customer’s email and details. Many industry experts believe this is a an ideal opportunity for the smaller hotel chains or independent providers to have direct communication with the customer, to build up a database and market directly to those customers. After all, that’s just what the OTA’s are doing right now with your customers. Also, for smaller hotel chains and independent hotels it is impossible to compete on a cost per click basis with large OTA’s. With the Google Hotel Ads Commission Program every hotel can be promoted and booked directly through the search results and pay commission per actual reservation.
Additionally, the rich data that Google has been collecting and collating means that their hotel descriptions can provide much more information than the OTAs can. Given the choices between a bland hotel description and one with all the amenities, location, Google Street View, reviews and photos, which one would you book with? This could be a great opportunity to make sure that your hotel’s unique selling points are featured, how many OTAs mention your chef, your High Tea, or show your private patios with stunning view of the mountains?
What is Google Destinations?
Google Destinations was launched in 2016. A tool designed to plan trips was tested on mobiles in the US. The service is now being expanded onto desktops and across locations. If you consider that Google knows exactly how its users behave when researching their holidays, it’s hardly surprising that they have developed a comprehensive trip-planner that combines all the best bits of travel related tools and information already out there. Instead of having numerous web pages open you can simply type in a possible holiday location and find everything about the destination right from that search. Whether you want to know about the climate, places of interest, best times to visit or even have an itinerary, it‘s all there. There are numerous filters so you can even check dates and prices for the trip. Google Destinations connects with Google Flights (their airline comparison service), Google Maps and Google Reviews. It links to a Google page for individual hotels and still includes partner sites for booking hotels. Not on Google Business or Google + yet? Perhaps you better think about it.
Clearly there are great benefits for potential customers too. Combining the possibility of booking a whole “package” from one search makes researching and booking a holiday a much simpler and less time-consuming process.
In the hotel industry it pays to keep your eye on the latest developments and embrace new changes as opportunities rather than challenges. Google’s Hotel Ads page says that “you’re going to need a bigger welcome mat”. One thing is certain, Google’s going places, so make sure that your business knows the destination too.
Find more detailed information about how to gain more online bookings in the articles “The Most Important Online Distribution Channels for Hotels”, “8 Tips To Gain More Bookings With Your Hotel Website” and “9 Essential Hotel Marketing Strategies”.