You’ve decided to take a more than well-deserved vacation and you are in charge of booking the hotel. Chances are you started your research with a Google search just like 96% of leisure travelers do.
As a hotel owner, you should be aware of how important it is for your hotel to show up online for travelers in every step of the decision-making process. But in case you need some reassurance, you can explore hundreds of studies that will bore you here, here, and here. And let’s not forget this one as well.
To profit, your hotel needs to attract as many of these indecisive travelers as possible. Thankfully, Google has thought of a way to do so while making it easier for everyone involved. We are talking about Google Hotel Ads.
But what is the purpose of this? Why complicate online advertising with a whole new ad format? Glad you asked! Let’s look at the two images below of Google Search results. Which ad would you click on first?
It’s obvious, isn’t it? Our eyes naturally gravitate toward the visualization of a map rather than the plain text ads full of yada yada yada.
Does this mean my search ads are pointless? No! The key to a great marketing strategy is to have all the pieces work together and doing what they do best. Search ads are great at converting people when they are close to making a hotel booking with brand terms. They are not as effective, however, at converting people when they search for very broad terms, such as “Hotels in Minneapolis” or “what are the best hotels in Minnesota?” Take a look at the search campaign conversion data from one of our clients below:
As you can see, it is critical to have a comprehensive strategy that catches all these different steps in the traveler’s journey, from the early awareness stage to the later decision-making step. Make it easy for them to pick your hotel over the other dozens of competitors. And no—only running search ads won’t cut it in the hotel space.
So, where do these Google Hotel Ads show up? Look below:
That looks way more helpful than the search ads we looked at, right? Hotel ads give future travelers the opportunity to book instantly, view your rooms, and check availability for their travel dates. Think about how users haven’t even gone to your site and they already know prices and what rooms are available. Making the customer happy by delivering a seamless user experience is key here—but more on that later!
Hotel Ads not only help you show up in standard Google searches, but your ads will be eligible to rank in Google Maps and Google’s Assistant (Hey Google!)
So, What Makes Up a Hotel Ad?
Let’s start with the basics.
As you can see, Hotel Ads not only enhance your hotel’s online presence, but they also delight users by providing one page with all the tools they need to make an educated decision. A Hotel Ad provides users with a level of detail a Search Ad just can’t. For instance, Hotel Ads include:
- Pictures of the outside and inside of the hotel – including rooms and street view
- Reviews of your hotel in a 1-5-star scale (be proud of that hard-earned reputation!)
- A location summary to show travelers how well located your hotel is
- Full address and phone number
- Map showing the exact location of the hotel
- Custom description of your hotel with a list of all your amenities
- Any discounts or promos that may be going on
- Availability check
- Things to do around your hotel
- Transportation available nearby (trains, buses, airports etc.)
And the list goes on!
A Practical Example
Seriously, does all this work really make a difference? Well, Google seems to think so. In a convenience-centric world, we must make things as easy as possible for our target audience, lest they become your competitor’s customer.
To illustrate, let’s do a quick hotel “battle” between The Saint Paul Hotel and the Drury Hotel. One is doing its homework and has a profile full of pricing, location, and availability information. The other, not so much.
See for yourself.
Now let’s pick on Drury Hotels.
The first thing you’ll notice is the lack of price and limited visibility. If that wasn’t enough to make someone glaze right past this hotel, look at their profile:
Sorry, Drury Hotel, but where is all your information? The lack of detail compared to competitors will likely stop a user from proceeding any further with the Drury Hotel. And what a shame considering their awesome reviews! As advertisers, we must do everything we can to make decision-making easy and convenient for the user. If not, they will go to the next hotel and book a room there. Why miss out on revenue?!
Also, not having their profile and Hotel Ads running, they are nowhere to be found in the hotel list. But look who ranked first…
On top of this, without pricing information your hotel will show up on the map, but only as a small, easy to miss dot. In fact, you can see The Saint Paul Hotel is blocking another hotel’s small dot on the map.
How to Get Started with Hotel Ads
Okay, you get the point and are now considering Hotel Ads. So how do you get started? How do you make your hotel shine and ascend victorious over all these other hotels in your area?
Truth be told, getting started with Hotel Ads is easier said than done. It can take weeks or even months before your Hotel Ads are ready to go.
There are two main steps in this process:
- Feeds setup
- Campaign creation & management
Creating your own feeds is a very technical process and Google recommends you go through one of their Authorized Integration Partners. You can, however, apply for Direct Integration Eligibility to complete the setup process yourself.
Step 1: Set up your hotel, price and POS feeds
This is a very technical, tedious and time-consuming step. It involves setting up three different feeds that send Google your hotel’s pricing, availability and property information. Google needs to be able to fetch data 24/7 and the feeds need to be up to date constantly in order to provide the most accurate information to users.
The easiest way to get started is by launching the Onboarding tool in the Hotel Ads Center once you have been approved for an account and start completing each of the onboarding tasks.
For the purpose of this post, we won’t get into the technical side. If you are interested in the ins and outs of setting up these feeds yourself, refer to Google’s documentation here.
Step 2: Create and manage your Hotel Ads
Thankfully, Google has transitioned Hotel Ad campaigns to Google Ads. Now you can manage your campaigns from the same interface you would use to manage your search campaigns. Yay for easy!
Creating a campaign is a pretty straight forward process. You have multiple bidding options to make sure you find one that fits your needs. You can either pay when someone completes a booking or when they clicked on your ad.
Pro Tip: It is key for hotel owners to have a clear idea on how much you are willing to spend in advertising dollars per booking. You can adjust your commissions and click bids accordingly so you don’t over spend or spread yourself too thin.
Optimize Your Hotel Ads to Convert More Customers
So, you have all your ads running, but you are still looking for better results and conversion rates. Below are some strategies you can use to go above and beyond and help your hotel(s) obtain even better results:
Optimize Your Google My Business Profile
Google My Business is a tool that doesn’t get a lot of love from business owners. However, if the information provided is accurate and complete, GMB has the most potential in enhancing your local rankings. Make sure your Hotel listing is claimed and start filling out all your information, including quality photos of the inside and outside of your hotel, amenities, etc.
Manage or claim your listing today at GMB
Care About Online Reviews
First impressions are important, and your hotel won’t appeal to anyone if the only thing they see are bad reviews. Make sure you take care of the bad reviews and even the good ones! Make travelers see that you care about your customers by responding to reviews.
To find your reviews, go here and search for your business.
Pro tip: Google now pulls reviews from other websites such as Expedia, Travelocity, Orbitz, etc., so don’t forget to keep an eye on those, too!
Whether we like it or not, the Internet is a very competitive place. With so many options one click away, anyone can effortlessly compare prices across websites, and it is no mystery that users tend to choose the lowest price. It’s crucial for your hotel to offer similar or better prices than your competitors to remain competitive and take market share away from OTAs.
Set Bids Strategically
When managing Hotel Ad campaigns, you can set up manual bid adjustments that can match users that you’ve found to be very profitable. Can you imagine bidding on travelers that are looking for 5+ days, in a highly valuable demographic area and looking for a hotel last-minute? Well, you can! Learn more about other bid adjustments you can choose from here.
It is not secret that travelers use Google for hotel hunting. Because of this, you have either an enormous opportunity for growth if you take advantage of this knowledge, or for disaster if your strategy falls short.
Your hotel needs to own the booking process and be present in every step of a traveler’s booking journey. User experience and convenience are expected both by travelers and by Google. You can easily provide those by successfully implementing a robust Hotel Ads strategy since Search Ads will only get you so far.
While it’s not easy to get started with Hotel Ads, the results you can get out of them will offset any initial investment and time spent in the beginning. Make sure you pick the right verified partner or contact us directly if you need assistance setting up your first Hotel Ads campaign.
Looking for a savvy paid media strategy partner with experience in the hospitality industry? Check out our paid media capabilities to see how NordicClick can help you acquire more customers and grow your business.