As with any announcement from Google, the launch of free hotel booking links generated its fair share of hype. After the launch back in mid-March, we analysed the impact on Metasearch across our portfolio. The following data is from March 11th – May 31st.
>> Free Links contributed to 25% of overall Metasearch revenue and 27% of bookings across all Metasearch channels
When we reviewed the data on the Google HPA channel we observed the following:
>> 38% of the revenue in the same time period was from the Free Organic links
>> 37% of the Google bookings came from Free listings
While we knew the new path to booking was going to contribute to bookings, we certainly didn’t think it was going to have this much of an impact and in this contributor’s opinion, it’s only going to grow more.
One question that has been raised by some of our customers was; should Metasearch be turned off if we are getting bookings through the new free links? We certainly wouldn’t recommend it. While the new free booking links are a welcome addition to an existing meta strategy, they certainly aren’t designed to replace it.
Two listings (Paid & Free,) are better than one. With hotels reopening across the globe, guests are now browsing with intent to book, so having more online presence for your brand is vital.
For more information on this please read our original article below.
“The team at Avvio have worked with Google over the past month to test this new feature. We welcome “free” space for hotels across the Google platform. I would like to have seen that space reserved specifically for hotels rather than online travel agents – to help encourage, support and promote small and medium hotel businesses especially in the current climate. At the moment it’s just as likely that the major OTA’s could occupy one of the free organic listings whilst consumers search for your hotel brand. An opportunity missed to engage the small hotelier yet further.” – Ian Sloan – VP Digital @ Avvio
Search results pages on Google are an ever changing landscape which means you need to make sure you are aware of the changes and prepared. In Google’s latest update, they want to populate and enrich its new organic section within Hotel Ads. The tech giant is now putting a strong emphasis on enhancing their search offering for hotels to improve the user experience by offering free booking links in Google Hotel Ads.
For all hotels, this is now a way to reach potential visitors for your property without paying ad fees. For digital advertisers, these free listings can help increase direct clicks to the hotel booking engine and save on expensive third party channels.
So where can we see these listings?
When you search for the hotel and “check availability,” you can see the listings on both Overview and Prices. Up to four paid-for links will appear above the organic list of prices for a hotel. Google differentiates between “Ads – Featured options” and “All options” which is the Organic listing. This new layout is very similar to what we are used to on the search engine results page where we have paid ads at the top and then organic results below them.
How exactly does it work?
There is no cost to have organic links live but you do have to have an up to date and verified Google My Business listing. You also need an integration partner that connects you to Hotel Ads. You don’t have to be active with paid campaigns to appear under organic listings but having both (organic and paid) will increase the chance of getting that click.
Along with price accuracy, Google says the ranking of free organic links will be based on an algorithm that considers pricing, click-through rates, landing page experience and other factors.
This new feature means that if you are already investing in Google Hotel Ads, your result will be shown in both sections (paid and organic.) If you are not investing in paid ads, this may be the best time to start, as it would be enough to be present on Google Hotel Ads even with a minimum CPC to be visible organically as well.. Thanks to being listed twice your hotel will take up more space in order to help increase overall visibility, increase clicks and ultimately converted guest bookings.
What is the difference between paid listings and organic?
The paid listing offers a lot more information than the organic listing such as room photos, cancellation information, rates & room types. It also has the “official site” also known as the hotel’s home page.
The organic listing shows less information but will also display “Official Site” and price.
Do filters alter the results page?
Yes, the “occupancy filter” or the “free cancellation filter” can alter the results of the listings.
Do organic listings appear on Google Maps?
At the time of writing, the free booking links are not showing on Google Maps just yet but watch this space.
How can you measure how effective this new feature is?
You can view the data on your Google Analytics account. It is too early to measure the effect this will have on the cost per click on paid ads. Time will tell if traffic and revenue will increase but having this listing should help bookings compete with OTAs.
Travelers will have more options now for booking a hotel at the best rate available. Hotels have a new, free way to drive more bookings. Even competing with the OTAs, hotels now have the opportunity of being more visible on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) it will help increase your overall visibility.