Google's new booking site: the impact and what to do
24th July 2019
A decade since they began, hotel metasearch comparison sites are generating more than US$6 billion in advertising (source), accounting for more than 45% of global unique visitors in travel, more than the proportion for OTAs (source). Sites including TripAdvisor, Kayak and Trivago, compare room rates from various OTAs and other booking sites in one place.
Although hoteliers cannot afford to neglect these metasearch sites, they must now pay as much attention to Google’s hotel platform, which was transformed in 2018. Google is usually defined as another hotel metasearch site, although it acts somewhat differently to others. What is important to understand is that Google used to simply show accommodation listings and room rates, but has introduced a host of new services.
The most radical development is a ‘Book On Google’ button, which means travellers no longer need to leave the Google platform to make a reservation (source). Google Hotel Ads will display direct booking room rates beside rates found on OTAs. Other developments include a mobile-specific hotel pricing tracker and Google Map hotel functionality.
For metasearch engines like Trivago and TripAdvisor, Google’s growing prominence is worrying as it’s easier for customers to bypass them and go directly to hotel websites. In fact, in 2019 Google reached 67% of all investment made in metasearch engines (source). Google already facilitates half of all direct bookings, although for the moment all payments go through the hotels.
Hoteliers need to put more time into their Google Hotel Ads strategy, but too many are only focusing on TripAdvisor and Trivago. They need to make sure their Google listing is optimised and attractive, with captivating photos and positive reviews. Google is also pushing personalisation, which allows marketing managers to use audience lists and data attribution to customise search text ads.
It helps reach similar audiences and contact people who have visited the hotel website. The marketing department can track the number of clicks and return on spending to improve performance. Google also has an enormous amount of valuable data about consumer behaviour and it will provide the information to help hoteliers to make informed decisions, which is unlike many OTAs.
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