Are the new Google FREE Hotel Ads as good as they sound?
Yes and No
Google recently announced it is giving all lodging properties a free listing in the search if you have a Google Hotel Center Account.
What are Google Hotel Ads?
Hotel Ads show room availability information and rates when a consumer is researching on Google Search, Google Maps and in Assistant.
Why might Google be doing this?
It’s nice to think they are altruistic in their actions but let’s remember this is business. Google has always professed to be the best search engine. If you follow the changes in their algorithms – they strive to present optimal results with a good user experience – meaning that when they serve suggestions up in a search – the person searching is happy with what they have been given. Google knows if you are happy because it measures how long you are on the site and how you engage with it. Next, realize that Google made product listings Free in April 2020 – because they were feeling pressure from Amazon. People were going to Amazon instead of Google as a search engine to find things they wanted to purchase. Once Google made free product listings, Google saw an increase in their search engine when they Freed up the search with more options. This however does not seem to be the issue, but actually the opposite. Some are suggesting that the change to FREE hotel listings is a result of an google anti trust investigation brought forward by Expedia –Expedia has stated that Google has pushed its own hotel products in searches and taking quality traffic. This may have motived the Google move.
Other thing to realize here is that Google is not giving up the Paid listings, in fact there will be 4 paid listings at the top and then the organic listings will follow – that’s where your FREE listing will be. So – as I get to the positives
– here it is –
you get listed in what used to be a paid meta search listing – for FREE. That should be good – right? Yes and No.
It is good because you have more visibility and free traffic from quality sources. Hopefully people will book with you directly and you can forgo the commissions to Online Travel Agents or paid ads.
Its potentially not good because now you are seen with all the online travel agents that are selling your place! As you know with the OTA’s you are forced to have parity (keep prices the same across the board) SO when the reservation system pushes out your rates – everyone should have the same rate and if the person looking wants to be nice and go direct – they will – because why not – the prices are all the same. But if you know OTA’s sometimes they undercut one another. Remember they are getting between a 15 and 18% commission from you. That gives them wiggle room in their offering and sometimes in the fineprint of the OTA – you agree to let them sell the room at a lower price when they see appropriate. So here is where you will have to be diligent with monitoring your prices – if you want to ensure direct bookings. You could always push out a percentage increase to the OTA’s but then that would jeopardize your presence on the OTA’s. OTA’s like Booking .com and Expedia algorithms reward parity. Remember a marketing plan includes all channels.
So this Free Google Hotel Ads is just another piece to your room marketing puzzle. Thank you for reading! Follow me on Instagram, FB or here on Youtube.
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