Over the past few years Google has made some major changes on its search engines as well as some add ons that have impacted the tourism industry, or better yet, on how people travel to a great extent.
What are some of these changes?
SERP or search engine results pages – from now on paid search results will no longer appear in the right column, an additional fourth paid ad has appeared in the fourth-place listing on the left column. It seems like Google is saving the right-hand side for Google Shopping or Hotel Search
Why are SERP changes important for hotels?
Having a paid marketing position is going to be more important than ever before if you wish to drive direct traffic to your website. The OTAs might be able to brand your hotel name ahead of you, taking away those direct bookings.
Destinations on Google – this feature was released for 200+ popular destination spots. Let’s say one of the most popular queries is “visiting the beach in Miami”, the destination helper will show up, when used on a mobile device, and it will give you flights, hotels and activities for that particular place
How Google Destination affects travel planning?
It simply makes users less reliant on third party website for travel research. Instead of going to multiple website, google destinations serves to streamline this travel research process.
How will this affect the hotel industry?
The destinations’ integration of google flights and hotel search will only strengthen the existing advertised products for travel brands. OTAs spend huge amount of money on google advertising every year, hotels will not experience much change in the costs for links from hotel search, the prices might actually become more competitive.
Overall, we should be mindful that this product is mainly for the mobile devices; we can see the importance that google puts on these devices for booking holidays. In the past years, we have seen an increasing growth of their usage.
Tips for Hotels
If you want your hotel to take advantage of these new changes, make sure your website is mobile friendly, to accommodate all kind of mobile devices and tablets having a good mobile user experience on your website will already give you an SEO boost.
Overall what’s changing?
We are noticing a key trend: Google is quickly becoming a major booking engine. Google might become one of the largest metasearch drivers of hotel bookings in the USA, we all know they have the tools and the giant search engine in order to make their mark in the hotel metasearch.
Google’s moves aren’t altruistic, they are making these changes in order to ease the research process for tourists. Now all kind of information is available in one compact place being hotel, plane, attraction or weather. The hotel marketing team needs to provide quality information to google such as good photos, google reviews and keeping property related data up to date.
No one knows what google has up their sleeve for the hospitality space, but we should be prepared as probably many more changes of this nature will happen soon.