This is the final post in a 4-part post about Google’s latest travel industry updates. Read part one ‘Will your Hotel Thrive or Dive under the new Google changes?” Part two “Who does Google love more – Hotels or Online Travel Booking Agents?” Part three “How does Google decide who should rank highest on Hotel Finder?”.
Google’s Paid Search Business and Hotel Finder
Whilst Google always strives to give the user the best results and experience in response to a search query, it is also in the business of making money. While I am not suggesting that you can pay Google somehow to get better rankings in the organic results, you certainly can make use of Google’s ‘Promoted Hotels’ tool.
What is Google’s Promoted Hotels?
Just like Google AdWords, where you can bid on a keyword to come up in the sponsored listings, Google’s Promoted Hotels works much the same way. It allows advertisers (hotels and online travel booking agents) to bid on particular properties in order to see them featured on the top of the search results on Hotel Finder.
However, only two to four advertisers can be featured in the shaded area on the search results for a particular property, with the winning bid listed as the only available booking channel.
This has caused bidding wars between the hotels and their booking agents. While many travel booking agents have extensive budgets to play with for top rankings, this is not always the case with some of the smaller hotels as they struggle to compete with these travel booking agents.
How to Promote your Hotel on Hotel Finder?
Promoted Hotels is part of Google’s Hotel Price Ads Program which has been undergoing extensive experiments. Hotel Price Ads will allow hotels to bid on sponsored listings that appear on Google Hotel Finder, as well as on Google+ Local and Google Maps.
This video demonstrates how Google’s Hotel Finder & Hotel Price Ads work:
Whilst in beta, Google only partnered with major online travel agents and hotel chains in order to test the system. Promoted hotels will be chosen based on a combination of bid price and quality score, as with Google AdWords.
While Google Hotel Finder was activated on a global scale at the end of last year it seems unclear whether the same can be said for the Hotel Price Ads. We will continue to update this blog with further developments on the topic.