Search, advertising, navigation, translation and communication. The list is endless. When it comes to the Internet-related services and products, Google can (just about) do it all.
A corporate giant with an overwhelming market share: 3.5 billion searches are made on Google every single day. There’s nothing ground-breaking in that statement – we’re all aware of the monopoly Google has online. What is impressive, is the work they’ve been doing in the background – small changes here and there over the last 12 months that are completely changing the playing field. We urge you to take notice and keep an eye on these seemingly superficial updates. Because if you don’t, you’re sure to miss the boat further down the line.
These Google updates are incredibly beneficial for hoteliers and can improve direct booking revenue when used correctly. As a Google Premier Partner, the team here at Avvio get a sneak peek into the new products added to Google’s portfolio and embrace any updates on the search engine results page (SERPs). You may have already noticed some of the roll-outs last year: the new Google Ads platform (replacing AdWords), a new look and feel to Google My Business pages, and a focus on Google Hotel Price Ads seen in their new ‘Book a Room’ button.
This article takes a look at what the hospitality industry should focus on in 2019:
Google My Business App updates
With the release of the updated Google My Business app, you need to start engaging with the platform and treating it like you would TripAdvisor. The new rollout includes the introduction of ‘customers’ and ‘messages’ tabs which really puts the focus on guest interaction.
Google reviews have risen in popularity and are an important ranking factor for your property. Positive reviews can elevate you into the coveted ‘Local Pack’ which will drive a lot of additional traffic to your site. In tandem, negative Google reviews can be damaging to your brand and potential traffic. Take the time to respond to negative reviews. This shows potential guests that you are proactively trying to resolve their concerns. We’re even seeing Google starting to summarise reviews – essentially acting like ‘Feefo’ or ‘Trustpilot’.
If you’re having trouble getting reviews, then be proactive and ask your guests to leave them!
Google Assist (Google Voice)
Google Assistant has been with us for a while. But many are unable to say goodbye just yet to their trusty Siri or Alexa. Google Assist can do things like; control your devices and play music, find information online, make appointments and send text messages. Par ‘making appointments’, none of this is particularly groundbreaking. So how will Google compete with existing brands in this space?
They’re even trialling new tools like the ability to check in to your flight (starting first with domestic flights with United Airlines). It’s not a massive jump from being able to say “Google book me a hotel room at The Ampersand in London”. On stage at the Phocuswright Conference in November, Google VP of Product Management Richard Holden said that the tech giant would launch hotel booking capability on its voice-activated Google Assistant product later that month.
There have been interesting developments in voice search over the last 12 months, and we anticipate rapid advances in this field throughout the year. In particular, keep an eye out for Google’s new Interpreter Mode. Launched earlier this year, the new feature connects to Google Home devices and Smart Displays. With it, you can ask Google Assistant to help you conduct a conversation in dozens of languages. Imagine being at the front-desk and able to converse, in real-time to a guest unable to speak the local language.
A mobile-first approach for hotels in 2019 is key. 5G smartphones are going to be more mainstream in 2019 and with that comes an expectation from users around their mobile experience. Hotels who have not prioritised mobile traffic and bookings will be negatively impacted. Google’s mobile-first indexing and OTA advancement mean that hotels cannot afford to ignore the importance of mobile. Within this space, Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) also needs to be included in any mobile first strategy.
AMP is a whole new way of creating web pages that allow a much faster load time than regular HTML. It also speeds up the delivery of content on mobile devices. Having a valid AMP version of your site could make a big difference, and could be enough to elevate your hotel to the top of search results. This important development should be on your agenda for 2019 if it isn’t already.
Google Ads and AI
In 2018 Google launched new machine learning capabilities to its Ads product to help brands run more effective campaigns across search, YouTube and Maps. It’s important to keep up with the technology or work with an agency who does, so you can take full advantage. One of the key benefits is that it’s likely to make campaign management less manual and time-consuming. The downside is the more it grows, the less human intervention there is with campaigns. More than half of marketers currently use AI, and an additional 27% are expected to incorporate the technology this year, according to Salesforce.
There is no doubt that Google will continue to dominate our digital distribution landscape, and it can seem like a full-time job keeping on top of all of the updates. Work with a partner like Avvio’s award-winning digital team who focuses on the important areas for your property, keeps you updated on the key advancements and continues to develop your digital strategy in line with your goals.