Just like with Motorcoach customers, when travelers today are ready to book a hotel, they’re likely to research using a variety of online sources. Some of those choices, however, are third-party transactions that take revenue from hotels or transportation companies in comparing to direct bookings.
Google’s Hotel Ads product positions itself as an answer for hotels looking to drive leads and capture– hopefully– direct bookings in an increasingly noisy and multi-layered booking process. Hotel Ads appear in every Google products where travelers could possibly browse for a hotel including Search, Maps, and Google+.
Google doesn’t assure that the Hotel Ads will lead to a direct booking as users can view multiple prices available directly though the hotel site and third-party companies like Expedia and Priceline.
“Hotel Ads offers hotels the opportunity to associate with consumers where they are booking,” says Megan Danielson, Google’s head of industry for travel. “The goal is to connect users to a booking channel, making the travel journey as rich as possible rather than dictate where users are supposed to book.”
One of five referrals from Hotel Ads to hotel partners comes from smartphones. Google launched Hotel Ads in 2011, yet has since streamlined the navigation and prioritized information involving rates, availability, user’s reviews, descriptions and location. Google has also given hotels the possibility to vary rates price by property, market, and device. In an important update, Google also optimized the ads for mobile devices. One of five Hotel Ad referrals comes from smartphones, according to Google.
Hilton’s Hotel Ads Experience.
This morning Google launched a case study looking at Hilton Worldwide’s experience with Hotel Ads.
According to the report, Hilton has seen conversion rates increase by 45 percent and ROI increase by 12 percent when making use of Hotel Ads in comparison to traditional ads that appear in Google Search.
“It didn’t really overwhelm us that hotels improve conversion rates with Hotel Ads,” says Geraldine Calpin, global head of digital at Hilton Worldwide.
“It’s a more helpful and detailed ad.”
Conversion rates represent people who click through the ad and complete a booking. Both conversion and ROI from Hotel Ads are generally in line with what Hilton observes from other metasearch partners like Kayak and Hipmunk, says Calpin.
For Hotel Ads specifically, desktop continues to drive the highest conversion rates. The hotel company has seen the best ROI achieved Google’s Maps and Places followed by Search and Hotel Finder.
Despite the ad’s relative effectiveness, integration in search results usually comes at the expense of organic search.
“We would always prefer the user find us through our organic listing as opposed to a paid placement integrated into the search results page,” she says.
Hilton will basically test these digital ad products with a sample of hotels across different locations and price points. Once it has formed best practices for that particular product, Hilton will roll it out to others. All 4,250 Hilton properties currently advertise via Hotel Ads.
Talking about broader ad strategies, Calpin says that retargeting has proven to remain one of the best reliable methods of digital advertising. Also, hotels that provide interior photos via Google Maps Business View capture much higher involvement than those without photos.