What has Google changed?
Under the radar last week Google launched their new hotel booking platform. There had been a lot of speculation as to when this would happen and what it would look like when it did. It’s the next logical move for Google based on the success of their metasearch model. The seamless relationship and user interface between Google Maps, Flights and Hotels makes for a great experience when booking trips in locations users are not familiar with.
All this means it has huge appeal and this newest launch is the next phase of its expected growth in this area. The new platform is without doubt user friendly, fast and intuitive and thus poses a threat to sites like Expedia and Booking.com.
More than 50% of Avvio customers’ total Metasearch bookings come from Google Hotel Ads. It is far and away the most successful channel, both in terms of volume and the cost per acquisition.
The new hotel platform includes better price filtering, clearer amenity information and the ability to book directly in Google for some of the OTA’s.
The feature most likely to appeal to the public is the ‘Deals’ feature. According to Google ‘this filter uses Machine Learning to highlight hotels where one or more of our partners offer rates that are significantly lower than the usual price for that hotel or similar hotels nearby.’
One key benefit for hotels is that Google Hotels will continue to include the ‘Website’ and ‘Directions’ link once a user has selected a hotel from the portal, so the hotel can benefit from additional traffic. There is a big opportunity to convert potential guests if you provide a good user experience, book direct benefits and the cheapest rate on your own site. You need to ensure that you’re maximising the opportunity with your Google My Business Listing and put your best foot forward in terms of selling your hotel here to attract this valuable traffic.
What is the likely impact for hotels?
It is likely to facilitate a lot more OTA bookings and put further pressure on any accommodation providers who are not using Metasearch to get on board.
Increasingly we hear from hoteliers that the OTA’s are increasing their market share and this is a key way the OTA’s are doing it. It is therefore extremely important for hotels to opt into this channel if not already doing so. It should be managed on a cost per acquisition (CPA) model as a % and never restricted by budget to maximise your chances of driving your direct bookings. While it does come in at a similar CPA than direct bookings via other Paid Search channels it is still a much lower cost channel than the OTA’s.
For now PPC ads still play a very important role for hotels in driving direct bookings – it remains to be seen whether Google do anything to interfere with how this currently works. As the PPC ads are currently above the fold on most devices and you have to scroll down to see Google’s hotel listings this is one area to watch.
For now there is still a bit of a waiting game to see where Google goes with this and how they integrate it further into areas like paid search.
Find out more about these changes on SearchEngineLand.