A Guide to Google Hotel Finder

Google hotel finder uses google hotel price adsGoogle 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.

built-a-google-local-page-for-hotel-finder

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.

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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. 

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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. 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.

hotel-finder-otas-bidding-on-hotels

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.

hotel-finder-in-serp-listing 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.








23 Comments

  • Hi there,

    I am working on marketing our NYC apartment hotels in Latin America. So far, Google Hotel Finder only seems to work from google.com. I read a different article here (http://www.hotelerum.com/en/google-hotel-finder-already-in-google-es/) which says hotel finder works for Google ES (Spain).

    I really need us to be listed for google.com.mx and google.com.ar, but these Google localizations don’t have hotel search yet. Any suggestions on what to do instead? I have a google plus business page (the newest one) for each of our properties. I want to know the best way to do localized plus pages. I called google and they haven’t been much help. What is the best way to get our properties to show up in google maps and hotel finder from around the world?

    • Thanks for posting Alex. From what I know, Hotel Finder is still not available outside the US. I’ve tried a few queries using proxies from other countries and have been unable to spot Hotel Finder in any SERPs. Do you ever see Hotel Finder appear for queries you make in your country?

      Sadly, many of Google’s experimental offerings, including hotel Finder, the Carousel, and even Google+ Local, are unavailable outside the US, or have limited availability outside the US.

      Please read my other guides to ensure your property’s presence is as optimized as it can be online:

      How to create a Google+ Local Business Page for your hotel
      Google+ Local for hotels

    • Sure, I visited this topic recently with the team. Schema.org tags are only used by Google to help Google understand your website better. They don’t actually make your website rank higher, or make your website rank better on hotel Finder.

      That said, using schema.org tags can make your listings look better. For example, using the hotel location schema tag can help Google understand what your address and phone number is, and may encourage them to list this information right in the SERP.

      I’ll be visiting this topic with a blog post soon.

  • Hi Brandon Dennis,

    First i would like to thank for sharing a great info on Google hotel finder.

    I am very much interested in listing my website in Google hotel finder. But we use an external source (ATDW API) for listing hotel information and all the payment transaction will happen within our website. In this case i do not have any idea to make my website listed in Google hotel finder.

    In this case Google does provide any other options to list these websites?

    • Sadly no, at the moment they do not allow public submissions to hotel finder. Your best bet is to follow my instructions in this post, get a Google+ Local listing for your property (Google Places), and list at least one of your rooms on an OTA.

      When Google changes their policy, I’ll be sure to update this post with new information.

  • I’ve got a bit of an issue as my hotel is based in Costa Rica and I am unable to get a google local page. I would love to be able to figure this out so I can get properly listed in GHF

  • Hi Selina, we already use TheBookingButton but we haven’t seen our thebookingbutton rates on GHF yet..How does it work?

    • Sadly yes. OTAs host your hotel’s marketing content with VFM Leonardo, which Google can use to find enough information about your property to list it on Hotel Finder. You can try to list your content with VFM Leonardo yourself, but I don;t know if this will be enough to get Google to list your hotel. http://www.vfmleonardo.com/

  • thanks Brandon – Great explanation – I’d like to use some of your content in a members only area I’m developing for moteliers in New Zealand – Could I have your permission to do so with acknowledgement and link back to you. Warwick Beaiuchamp

  • We have understood that Google collects the data for Hotel Finder from Google Places/Local and from the major booking services – in particular, we note that they use data from Booking .com.

    Our query relates to the Star ratings.applied to many oi the Hotels. We cannot find where they get that data from – it does not come from Google Places (as there is no facility there for entering it) and it does not come from Booking .com as some “Starred” hotels on Booking .com do not show a corresponding entry on the Hotel Finder and some “Starred” entries on Hotel Finder are not so marked on Booking. com.

    We want to update the source entries (on whatever websites are relevant) for our client Hotels but cannot find where to do so!!.

    Any ideas??

    • Google gets this ‘star’ data from Google Local. Check out the Local listing for many hotels (for example, The Maxwell Hotel in Seattle, and you will see the star rating in the property’s description). I’ve never created a Local listing for a hotel, so I don’t know if there is a field for inputting a hotel’s ‘star’ rating or not. I do know that the hotel star rating system is based on accommodations provided (elevators, pools, etc.) so it could be that Google is generating a star rating for your property based on the accommodations you list. This is just speculation on my part.

  • Just a head’s up as the manager of Hotel FIVE’s SEM. I spoke to Google about dynamically feeding our own hotel rates into their interface, they claim we cannot do this yet. However, we will have the ability to do so in the future. Also, we are currently not able to participate in CPC campaigns in this arena either. They’ve only opened this up to large hotel chains at this point which is frustrating. I am attending a conference later this month with a Google Hotel rep as a guest speaker and will hopefully have a better understanding of the launch dates of these items. This is definitely something to be paying attention from a hotelier’s standpoint. Stay tuned.

    • Excellent info, thanks for sharing Tom! As it is, I feel that Hotel Finder isn’t built with an independent hotel’s best interest in mind, but I’m hopeful that they’ll soon release features to give more power to individual hoteliers.

    • I spoke to our Siteminder rep on Monday and he said that they started talks last week with Google so that they could open up a channel that we could load product onto.

      Best case is that we could have a option in 4 or 5 months here in Australia.

  • Have you come across a system that allows hotels to load their own real time booking page in Google Hotel Finder? Google are not shouting about one, they are just looking after their big PPC clients, helping them raid hotel websites for easy commissions.

    • Exactly: Google has no desire to give hotels direct reservations because that means they would make less money from OTAs that pay Google for prominence on a hotel’s listing page. See the screenshots above: GetARoom.com is the only purchase option seen, until you press ‘more’–the next 3 are more OTAs, until finally we see a link to the actual hotel website, dead last, with no pricing information. I have not heard anything to suggest that Google will allow a hotel’s booking engine or CRS to directly connect with Hotel Finder. Hopefully what Google told Tom above is correct, and they will give more options to independent hotels in the future.

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