Your ultimate guide to Google Hotel Ads

Your ultimate guide to Google Hotel Ads

Google is no longer just a search engine and a verb, but also one of the top places where travellers begin their hotel search. Within just a few clicks, their search can be narrowed down to a handful of properties, with the top listings benefiting tremendously in shaping their perception of what is available and within their budget. Hoteliers worldwide must embrace this opportunity to attract guests who rely on technology to guide their decision-making.

This blog will give you a full guide to Google Hotel Ads, explaining how hotels can manage their Google presence with ease using integrations, while responsibly managing a budget and maximising revenue.

What is Google Hotel Ads?

Google Hotel Ads, explained simply, is paid advertising within Google’s hotel product offering.

In generic online searches for everyday items, most people now understand the difference between organic results and paid results, which usually appear at the top and are marked as Ads. The same applies to Google’s hotel product, which provides users with a simple way to browse and explore hotel options wherever they may want to travel. Hotels can choose to use ads to build their strategy beyond the free option, whereby hotels are listed below the Top 4 paid results in ‘All Options’. Using Google Hotel Ads, a hotel should expect to increase its traffic and, in turn, total revenue.

Beyond the traditional search results, keep in mind that travellers also search on mobile devices and within other Google apps, such as Maps: these are tied into the same source and also feature ads while returning a hotel’s most up-to-date profile and rates.

How does Google Hotel Ads work?

Google Hotel Ads works similarly to any other channel you connect your hotel to, with the added layer or opportunity of running ads to be seen. Visibility is key because your hotel will be one of many that compete to be seen by someone searching for “hotels in your location”. That is unless someone already knows the property and searches for your specific property name, where they will be shown your business profile and, if set up, the free booking link.

By creating a profile for your hotel on Google and supplying them with real-time information on your property, such as inventory and rates, search results are optimised. Ideally, this means travellers looking for “hotels in” will be quickly enticed further down the sales funnel, which can be a click-through to your website to book directly, an OTA, or a booking generated directly on Google. A simple way of ensuring inventory and rates on Google are up-to-date, is using a channel manager.

In order to run campaigns and ensure top listing spots in search results, hotels need a waterproof strategy that ensures high visibility at the lowest possible price point. This protects their bottom line and ensures that this channel of business becomes a sustainable revenue stream.

Creating a profile for your hotel, including a free booking link, is simple. It involves claiming your Google Business Profile. Where more attention and careful management are needed, is the distribution of inventory to Google (ideally using a channel manager) and the informed and strategic management of campaigns. The goal is to reach the right online target audience at the right time with the right bid and rates.

How much does Google Hotel Ads cost?

Depending on a hotel’s location and its competitors and their involvement in Google Hotel Ads, cost very much depends on factors that are both within and outside the control of hotels. The cost of ads is based on individually defined campaign budgets and bid values.

Bid values are within the control of hotels. A property can choose what type of bid values it would like to use for hotel campaigns in Google Ads from the following list:

  • Commissions (per stay): A percentage of the room booking value is paid only for actualised stays (not for cancellations).
  • Commissions (per conversion): A fixed percentage of room booking value is paid for every booking generated through the ad, even if it is later cancelled.
  • Manual CPC (cost-per-click): Bid a fixed amount when someone clicks on your ad.
  • CPC%: Bid a percentage of the room price per night when someone clicks on your ad.
  • Enhanced CPC: The enhanced option for cost per click is a campaign-level setting and works by automatically adjusting bids for clicks, based on other information Google has, called ‘auction-time signals’. These signals include device type, time of day, and other factors.

Hotels in big cities with a lot of competition will approach their Google Hotel Ads strategy differently from hotels in smaller destinations, where perhaps there are fewer than 10 hotels. The fewer hotels there are in a clearly defined market, such as a town, the higher the likelihood of being listed high and visible to potential guests searching for that specific market. Realistically, this also means that suburban markets, which see spillover during high occupancy dates from large cities, may be able to maximise on those specific dates through clever campaigning.

What is the conversion rate?

According to Renolon, who aggregated 10 data sources, the average conversion rate for Google Ads (not specific to hotels) is 4.72%. They state a wide range according to industry, between 2.4 – 9.6%. The Google Hotel Ads conversion rate is listed as 3.55%. At the same time, significant differences are to be expected due to seasonality, but also between markets. High-traffic destinations with a lot of competition may have more lookers and lower conversion rates, while smaller markets, where the decision-making process may involve fewer searches or comparisons, might convert a looker with a definite need to stay more quickly.

Qualifying whether a specific conversion rate is healthy for your hotel will depend on comparisons with your hotel’s performance on other channels and the overall cost of acquisition.