How to Get Listed on Google Hotel Finder
Google Hotel Finder has been around for a while, but this week Google has started displaying Google Hotel results aggressively in SERPs (search engine result pages), making it important that your hotel is listed. Google Hotel Finder is designed to be a one-stop-shop for accommodation planning. It is designed to display relevant information from many hotels that fit your search criteria, and then give you reservation options. I’ll get into further details after I explain how to get your hotel listed.
How to List Your Hotel with Hotel Finder
Similar to how Google scans other websites to find information to display, Google Hotel Finder gathers hotel information from a variety of places. Here is what you need to do to get listed.
Step One – Create a Google Local Page
Google gets a hotel’s marketing content, including descriptions, photos, videos and more, from your property’s Google Local listing. Thus, before you get listed, you need to create a Google Local profile. It is very easy to do, and you can get a basic one set up in just a few minutes. Go here to start:
Note: In order for Google to recognize your profile as a hotel, you need to select ‘Local Business or Place’ when setting up your page. Google uses your Google account to power your Local listing. If you don’t have one, you’ll be asked to create one.
Also Note: Hotel Finder supplements your hotels information on Google Local with information hosted by VFM Leonardo, which is the company many OTAs and GDSs use to distribute the marketing content related to your hotel. Therefore, your Hotel Finder listing may have more photos than the ones on your Google Local profile.
Step Two – Connect Your Hotel to a GDS or OTA
Google populates Google Hotel Finder with up-to-date information about your hotel’s inventory availability by tapping into GDSs (global distribution systems) or finding your inventory on OTAs (online travel agencies). If you are not listed on either, then contact your central reservation system (CRS) service provider and ask to be connected to the GDS and to list your inventory on OTAs.
You can set this up yourself by making direct arrangements with them. I’ve included a list of resources at the end of this article. If you’re not sure what a GDS or OTA is, read our free whitepaper on hotel booking solutions.
Step Three – Update Your Content
Now that you have your Google Local listing set up and you’re connected to an OTA or GDS, you need to keep your hotel’s information updated. If you use a CRS connected to GDSs and OTAs to manage your daily hotel inventory, then Google Hotel Finder will keep your listing’s availability and rates up-to-date automatically. If not, log into each service’s extranet to update room listings and rates, which will be reflected on Hotel Finder eventually.
To edit your listing’s marketing content, such as hotel descriptions, photos, addresses and so on, log-in to your Google Local page and make any changes you wish. These changes will be reflected on Google Hotel Finder eventually. Google hasn’t released information on how long it takes them to update Hotel Finder. It can take anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks.
The Details – How Google Hotel Finder Works
Google Hotel Finder is Google’s attempt to dominate another search niche. Anything that can be searched, should be searched from Google, or so goes their thinking. Thus, they developed Hotel Finder to be a dashboard from which to shop for accommodations. Couple it with Google Flights, and you have a fully-fledged trip planner. Google makes money by selling promoted hotel placements to hotels and OTAs, as I covered a few months ago in a previous article. Google acts as a middleman between the guest and an OTA, or your hotel, adding yet another layer to the customer acquisition funnel.
Hotel Price Ads
OTAs bid for prominent placement in Hotel Finder using an exclusive service called Google Hotel Price Ads, which is similar to Google Adwords. Hotel Price Ads is not available to the public. Instead, Google develops direct relationships with OTAs, large hotel chains, and prominent CRSs, giving them access to Hotel Price Ads so they can re-sell the service to independent hotels. This means that independent hotels can’t sell their rooms directly from Google Hotel Finder unless they purchase advertising services from organizations that have access to Hotel Price Ads.
Hotel Website Links
If the hotel has a website added to Google Local, then Hotel Finder may provide a link to the website, allowing guests to book directly from the hotel website. However, the link is hidden under a ‘more’ drop-down button. It has no pricing information and is at the bottom of the list, discouraging clicks. In order for an independent hotel to take over the red booking button and sell rooms directly, the hotel must hire a service to run Hotel Price Ads on their behalf, and win a bidding war between the competing OTAs.
Why Should You Bother?
This week, Google incorporated Hotel Finder listings into standard search queries. Google ‘seattle hotels’ and you find a Hotel Finder search box at the top of the list. This is valuable real estate in the SERP Google could be using to place more AdWords ads, but instead they’re promoting Hotel Finder, demonstrating their dedication to this ‘experiment’. If people adopt Hotel Finder, then having a prominent listing with many reviews will be important to stand out among the crowd for local queries.
Get started now, and you’ll acquire reviews and have the opportunity to optimize your listing in preparation for when (if) it becomes a popular tool.
Get Listed on Hotel Finder
The following OTAs and GDSs can be used to help you get your hotel rooms and rates listed on Hotel Finder. I’ll update this list with other options as I research them. Please leave feedback if you know of other resources.
Expedia – OTA
Contact Expedia if you want to partner with them and offer your room inventory on their OTAs, including Hotwire and hotels.com. Once you become a partner, you can manage your hotel inventory from their extranet.
Travelocity – OTA
Travelocity populates their content from the Sabre data feed. Contact Sabre Holdings to list your inventory. Once listed, login to Travelocity’s extranet to update your hotel information.
Amadeus – GDS
Amadeus is one of the five major GDSs. Once you verify that your hotel qualifies, you need to contact them to obtain the contract you need to sign to join. Learn more about connecting to the Amadeus GDS here.
Update: 01.16.2013 – Updated with more information about Google Hotel Price Ads, in response to questions form hoteliers interested in listing their rooms themselves.
A Guide to Google Hotel Finder by Brandon M. Dennis