Think of the last time you booked a trip or bought a hotel for travel: Where did you start?
If you started with a Google search, you’re not alone.
Even back in 2012, 96% of travelers started their hotel planning journey with a search engine.
Travelers are still using search engines the majority of the time when looking to book a new hotel.
But with increasing competition, it’s harder than ever to rank high organically.
And basic search network ads for your hotel aren’t compelling enough.
Thankfully, Google has the antidote: Google Hotel Ads.
Here’s all you need to know about Google Hotel Ads and how to start your first campaign today.
What Are Hotel Campaigns on Google AdWords?
Hotel ad campaigns on Google work a bit differently than most ad types.
For example, when searching for a query and targeting it with a search network ad, your ad results are immediately noticeable:
But when searching for hotels and not clicking on basic search network listings, it’s harder to tell where the ad process begins.
There’s no green or blue “ad” button to tell you which of these results are ads.
Why? Because they aren’t….yet.
The results above are actually organic search results for hotels. The next step for a user is to click on a given hotel that sounds interesting.
By providing details on the organic card listings like reviews, pricing and some features and discounts, users can decide if they are interested or not.
Plus, they can even refine results to specific areas, amenities, ratings and hotel class. This sorts and filters the results.
Clicking on a given result will pull up the hotel details card:
And now you should start to see “ads” buttons marked in green or yellow, giving searchers the option to book instantly, view rooms or check availability.
Those are hotel ads.
Depending on where the user is searching, hotel ads are present in more places than search network ads, giving them a huge advantage.
For example, whether a user is searching for a branded search, a generic search or even browsing Google Maps, hotel ads are present and ready to convert:
And according to Google studies, they work.
Superbude hotel is generating a sustainable 13% conversion rate on their campaigns with an ROI improvement of nearly 40%.
Hotel Àmbit’s has used Google Hotel Ads to generate a 2,465% return on ad spend.
Simply put: they work. Well.
But why would you use Google Hotel Ads instead of search network ads? Are they better?
Why Google Hotel Ads and Not General Search Network Ads?
It’s tempting to take the easy route when it comes to pay-per-click advertising.
Campaigns, networks, and platforms are complex. They require tons of work, time and serious ability to not get frustrated by tedious tasks.
And that’s why most people turn to the search network. You can create your account and get started with a basic text ad in literally ten minutes or less. It’s that simple.
But rarely does the easy way produce the best results for anything in life.
When it comes to driving hotel bookings with PPC, basic search network ads can do just fine. But you aren’t here to skate by with a mediocre conversion rate. You’re here to make big wins happen for your hotel.
And to do that, you need ads that showcase your hotel better than search network ads.
Take a look at this search network ad for a hotel:
Nothing special, right?
You simply can’t communicate much value in such a limited space. Not when there are so many factors at play.
It’s much easier to advertise your website for traffic on the search network than it is to convince someone to buy a stay at your hotel.
People want details. Pictures. Reviews. Location. Proximity to tourist sites. And that can’t be accomplished with a basic text ad.
Now compare that to this Google Hotel Ad:
In this Google Hotel Ad, the hotel showcases:
- Pictures of the hotel, both inside and outside street view
- Exact map location in the city
- Reviews of the hotel in star format
- Address and phone number
- Current discounts: save $130 if you stay on specific dates
- Direct availability checker
- Detailed hotel information, including benefits, features and a rich description of why this hotel is great for the user.
You just can’t fit all of that into a basic search network ad!
While hotel ads take more time and effort to get started with, it’s no wonder that advertisers are finding success. Users can learn everything about the hotel right from a search without clicking back and forth on dozens of hotels.
It’s your time to make a great first impression and land the sale.
Here’s how you can get started today.
Getting to Know The Ins and Outs of Google Hotel Ads
Hotel ads are a bit complex compared to other ad formats with Google.
With current updates by Google, advertisers are capped at 50 different campaigns.
While that feels limited, you can have up to 2,000 ad groups in a single campaign, giving you tons of room for experimentation and campaign size adjustments.
Campaign setup includes factors like:
- Bidding and budget max
- Ad groups
- Geolocation targeting
- Device targeting and bid modifiers
- Callout extensions
Within ad groups, you can start to heavily customize how you structure your campaigns.
For instance, if your business goal is to drive more mobile signups, you can create specific ad groups targeting mobile devices only.
In these campaigns, you can offer different callout extensions and offers based for mobile visitors.
With abilities to structure individual campaigns by device type, geolocations or even hotel characteristics, customization options are nearly limitless.
How to Get Started with Google Hotel Ads
Getting started on Hotel Ads with Google is mainly comprised of two different aspects:
The data feed is similar to that of custom audiences on Google and Facebook in that it requires specific data entry points relating to your business.
For instance, data like pricing, vacancy, images, reviews and more. All of that data is required to show hotel ads on Google.
According to Google, creating your own feed is a very technical process and is only recommended for highly experienced users.
In fact, they recommend that you use what they call a “third party integration partner.” These can be found directly on the Hotel Ads website.
To get started, head to the Google Hotel Ads homepage and hit “Get Started.”
This will take you to the “Find a Partner” page where you can look for authorized integration partners:
Confused? I don’t blame you.
With Hotel Ads, you need to use an authorized integration partner that will provide your hotel rates and availability to Google. Some can even manage campaigns for you.
Depending on what technology you use, you might already have a provider listed with Google, making the process fast and easy.
In the search bar at the top, type in your hospitality technology provider, if you have one:
If they are a certified partner with Google, you can use them to proceed to the next step.
If you don’t have one, you can begin to sort different integration partners based on pricing models, properties and more.
If you want to directly integrate to Google and skip the integration partner step, you can.
But, fair warning:
It’s a ton of work. Using Google’s start guide, you can use their onboarding tool to create a hotel list feed, price feed and point of sale list. These three components are the keys to creating your direct integration with Google.
Since that was a bit complex, let’s recap the options for getting started:
- Using an integration partner: Google has a list of certified integration partners. Depending on your hotel setup, you might (and are likely to) be already using a verified partner with Google. This means that they can automate the process for you, sending Google the right pricing and data feed information. This option is the easiest route.
- Creating your own data feeds: If you want to skip the certified integration partner step, you can apply for direct integration with Google. This involves the onboarding process and filing an application. You will create three data feeds and undergo finalized testing before being approved.
Ultimately, creating your own data feeds will take longer, but might save you money as you avoid paying and using a third-party service. On the other hand, third-party services will take care of most of the legwork and often run the entire campaign for you.
Next up, bidding.
To launch live hotel ads with Google, you can either:
- Bid on individual hotels
- Bid on groupings of hotels
Depending on the differences in the hotels you manage, you can customize or group your bidding.
For example, if you run multiple hotels of the same stature and rating that have the same pricing on average, group bidding will be more efficient. If you run budget and high-end hotels, individual bidding will be the best bet.
To edit your budget and bidding, you can use the Hotel Ads center. Here’s how.
Using the Google Hotel Ads Center
After starting your journey with Hotel Ads, you will automatically get a Hotel Ads Center account created for you. This dashboard works just like regular AdWords.
Hotel Ads Center platform covers everything you need to know about your hotel ads account, from metrics to bidding and settings:
The home section of your Hotel Ads Center account will display key opportunities and performance updates:
You can analyze your auction performance, where Google will provide you with details on new opportunities. Whether it’s raising bids or improving hotel information.
In the Tools section of your dashboard, you should see your data feed and any potential errors that occur:
If you’ve manually created a data feed with direct integration, this section will be your best friend, highlighting specific data points that need fixing.
When it comes to bidding, you can edit your bids in bulk based on groups or tweak individual hotels right from within your dashboard:
Depending on your account setup (direct vs. third-party) you may not even need to access this Ads Center or tweak your bidding. Third-party partners will likely have their own system that integrates with Google, and they often run the account for you.
Either way, now you know precisely what to look for when running your campaigns!
Two Easy Ways to Improve Conversions with Hotel Ads
With hotel ads, there are two easy ways to maximize your conversion rate and increase your click-through rate:
- Perfect your Google My Business Profile
- Generate better customer reviews
When users click on your hotel details card, direct information about your hotel is displayed.
This includes the “Hotel details” section of features, benefits and a description, as well as your address, photos, and map location.
This can all be edited within your Google My Business account.
If you don’t have one setup, complete your listing and provide as much detail as possible. Use only your best images and ensure that your copywriting is succinct yet compelling enough to drive attention on search results.
Secondly, focus on generating more Google reviews for your business.
Getting more reviews will help you build a hotel details card that is trustworthy and more detailed than most hotels. But beware: when it comes to Hotel Ads, reviews are pulled directly from Google reviews. Meaning Yelp reviews or Tripadvisor won’t do you any good here.
Pro Tip: Consider running promotions and emailing your current customers or loyal members to write reviews for your business on Google, offering them a discount if they complete it.
And don’t forget to always keep your GMB page up to date and test new copywriting or deals to improve performance with your ads.
The majority of travelers use search networks to research their hotel options first.
It’s the first stop on a buying journey that leads to new bookings.
But standard ads won’t cut it anymore.
Not when hotel ads are dominating the scene.
They provide dozens of ways to communicate tons of information about your hotel that standard ads can’t.
From reviews to discounts to photos and map locations, the booking process has never been easier.
Don’t fall behind. Start your next campaign using Google Hotel Ads to generate better results.
To get started, your easiest route is selecting a verified partner on the Google Hotel Ads website.
From there, you can launch campaigns live faster than creating your own feed.
After becoming familiar with the layout and structure of hotel ads, start to improve your performance by optimizing your Google My Business Page and improving your positive reviews on Google.
When it comes to advertising your hotel, search network ads are easier. But big wins come from in-depth Google Hotel Ads.