To get listed on Google’s Hotel Finder, hotel marketers need to create a Google+ Local listing for their property and get at least one room listed on an OTA. We’re happy to give advice on how to get listed with Google’s Hotel Finder. Sign up for more information, or give us a call at +1 800 734-1769.
New with Hotel Finder: Promoted Hotels
Tnooz reports that Google’s Hotel Finder is experimenting with an adwords-like ad campaign for Hotel Finder called Promoted Hotels. Like adwords, hotels and online travel agencies (OTAs) will bid for top placement in Google’s Hotel Finder–their hotel aggregate-slash-OTA launched last year. Hotels or OTAs that make the highest bid will enjoy premium listings at the top of Hotel Finder results.
The controversy comes when OTAs make high bids on hotel brand names. As Tnooz showed last week, hotels.com has a Promoted Hotels listing for a hotel’s brand name. Because hotels.com paid for the ad, the resulting Hotel Finder information pane about that hotel has prominent conversion buttons and links that lead to hotels.com, not to the actual hotel’s website. Even though the data that drives Hotel Finder is property-owned information placed in Google Local (formerly Google Places), the CTAs lead to OTAs instead of hotel websites.
Promoted Hotels is still in an experimental state and we have few details, but presumably, Google will accept bids from actual hotel owners, allowing them prominence for their own properties in Hotel Finder. When that time comes, it may be beneficial for hoteliers to have a compelling Hotel Finder listing.
The information Google uses to power Hotel Finder comes from a number of places, but primarily through Google Local. You cannot sign up or apply to be included in Hotel Finder, but Google is more likely to include you if you have a Google Local page that is complete and compelling. To get your room prices, Google scans OTAs like hotels.com, booking.com and Expedia.
We don’t know if Hotel Finder will be adopted by the public in a meaningful way, which is why Google still lists it as an ‘experiment’. At the moment, it appears that the best kinds of properties to benefit from the experiment are larger hotels that use OTAs as a primary way of getting reservations. Even for properties that have superb Google Local pages, Hotel Finder lists the hotels’ actual website last in a list of booking options, hidden under a ‘more’ button.
The question is out on whether or note Hotel Finder will drive more traffic to your website and give you more direct, commission-free bookings. My guess is that the only way a hotel could work this in its favor (assuming OTAs are not an integral part of its online marketing strategy) is to bid high with Promoted Hotels–and only when the experiment becomes mainstream.
What do you think of all of this? Am I being to cynical? Share your thoughts in the comments.