The travel industry has spent the last few years adjusting to changes in research and booking behavior. Recent Google releases have kept hoteliers on the edge of their seats as they wait to see how new features will affect the online booking climate, in particular direct property bookings. Will they help hotels? Hurt OTAs? How can properties build relationships with guests if they’re not even seeing the information provided on the website?
Yesterday, July 12, Google announced their new release at a NYC event and to the public on their Adwords blog: https://adwords.googleblog.com/2016/07/making-travel-and-shopping-easier-for.html
Some of the key highlights surrounding travel related updates:
Hotel Smart Filters: We’ll now give people the option to filter Hotel search results based on specific needs. For example, travelers can filter based on rating or price with one tap on their phones. We"ll make it easy to search for exactly what people want, like "Pet-friendly hotels in San Francisco under $200" to find the perfect hotel for them. This feature is available in the US and will roll out globally later this year.
Hotel Deals: Everyone loves a good deal. When searching for a hotel, you may now see a "Deal" label calling out when a hotel’s price is lower than usual compared to historical pricing or when there are discounts to the normal rate for those dates. These deals are automatically identified by our algorithms when we see a significant reduction in price. In our early tests, we've seen that hotels marked as deals receive about twice as many bookings as other hotels.
Hotel Tips: Tips are another way we're using real-time analysis to help users find the best hotels for their needs. Tips provide just the right information at the right moments when users are searching for hotels. We may show Tips to people when they could save money or find better availability by moving their dates slightly. For example, you may see a Tip like, “Save $105 if you stay Wed, Jul 13 - Fri, Jul 15”. We’ll be rolling Hotel Deals and Tips out globally beginning now and over the coming months.
The updates reflect the changes in booking behavior the industry has been watched evolve. Guests now expect information to be readily available and easy to access across devices and systems.
The good news is that Google's new features are not necessarily a negative for properties. In fact, Google encourages travelers to use more specific keywords in their search which can provide valuable information to hotels. By recognizing which search results a property is winning and losing, hotels can adjust their market positioning to create campaigns that better fit the needs of their target market.
Hotels can ensure that visitors who are looking for specific features or deals have a site experience that reflects their interests. By targeting specific messaging and offers on the property website, customers wants and needs are kept at the forefront of their site experience.
For example, the new feature release will empower researchers to use keywords like never before. Instead of searching for “hotels Jamaica,” travelers can say things like “kid friendly hotels Jamaica under $300.” Then, when visitors hit the website from that search result, hotels can use targeted messaging to display amenities specific to visitors with children as well as any applied discounts.
Overall, the feature enhancements will allow people to search and book hotels in an easier and more responsive way. As the population discovers the ease of use and better experience, the industry may see a rise in direct website visits and bookings, allowing hotels to keep more revenue per booking.