Google Hotel Finder – Everything you wanted to know
Bookassist Search Marketer Martin Murray discusses Google’s latest experiment, the Google Hotel Finder.
The Google hotel finder is a very interesting development that has the potential to shake up the online market for hotels. As a service, it aims to allow you to search, compare and book hotels from all over the world. It can be accessed at:www.google.com/hotelfinder
Appearing on the Google Hotel Finder
The majority of hotels are already included in the hotel finder but some hotels are currently missing and some hotels that are included are only shown if you use the shape tool on the map to include the area where the hotel is physically located. If your hotel is not currently listed please be aware that Google are constantly adding hotels to their database.
Analysis & Opinion
In our opinion, the main positives and challenges of the hotel finder for the online customer and the hotel are listed below.
● Clean, uncluttered design.
● Shape tool is useful but only beneficial if you know the area you are visiting.
● Filtering options are useful and easy to use.
● Prices are listed clearly.
● The hotel website link is included automatically and is free.
● Hotels can now compete directly with OTAs.
● A user cannot search by hotel name, specific address or landmark.
● Prices are currently displayed in US dollars only.
● English is the only available language.
● Only reviews from Google are listed.
● Some hotels are missing from the finder.
● Not all hotels can show their own prices yet.
● As of mid December, Google is placing its hotel finder as the first sponsored link in search results for hotels in the USA, causing considerable controversy in the PPC market.
Hotel Specific Challenges
Besides the challenges of the hotel finder product there are also some hotel-specific challenges which only you the hotel owner can overcome.
Rate parity – Up until now customers have had to go to multiple websites to check who has the best price. With services such as Google hotel finder they now only have to go to one website. As a result it is now fundamental that hotels have the same rate or better on their own website compared with the OTAs that are selling the hotel’s stock.
Availability – Allocating sufficient availability on your own website is essential if your hotel is to benefit from the hotel finder. Simply put, if Google “hotel finder” is to generate traffic to your website and you do not have sufficient availability on your own website then that traffic will be wasted as the visitor will go elsewhere.
Integration – In order to fully benefit from the hotel finder, full integration with the your hotel’s own booking engine is essential. This means partnering with providers like Bookassist that can provide such integration.
Reviews – At the moment the hotel finder only displays reviews from Google. You should make sure you are reading and reacting to all reviews on Google about your hotel. You should also try and encourage guests to leave reviews on Google to build content for the future.
Once you get your prices to display on Google Hotel Finder you are then signing up to a Cost per Click (CPC) advertising service so in certain respects the Google hotel finder is evidence of the shift to paid advertising that is currently taking place.
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