Last year, Google introduced a way for hotels to show free booking links. This month, Google announced an expansion of free booking links. These free links are now available on Search and Maps.
The travel industry is certainly showing signs of recovery since the pandemic, with “spring vacation” searches nearing the volume it was in 2019.
With travel rebounding to pre-pandemic levels, Google announced new tips to help hotels connect with and reach people who are ready to travel.
Free Bookings On Google
Consumers have may ways of searching for travel. Whether they search on Google.com or within the Maps app, hotels and travel partners can now extend their reach with free booking links.
This update allows users to choose from more options than before. Once a user clicks the link, they can complete their booking on the hotel or travel partners’ website.
Why The Change?
Since free hotel booking links were introduced, travel and hotel partners have seen noticeable benefits, including increased user engagement. Everyone from individual and boutique hotels to large travel agencies have seen the benefits.
One of the booking engines, “myhotelshop” has seen a 30% incremental increase in bookings during the summer of 2021.
New Reporting Available
With the expansion of free booking links into Search and Maps, new reporting is now available.
Within your Hotel Center account, you’ll see click reporting for the free links.
In the future, Google will be adding additional metrics, such as:
- Booking value
Additional Program Updates
Google has made a well-deserved change to sharing rates and availability. Beginning in April 2022, individual hotels can manually input rates and availability through their Google Business Profile. There are certain eligibility requirements for this feature:
- The business is verified on Google
- The website has online booking enabled/available
This update eliminates the technical requirements that were previously needed to update information.
If you want to start using this feature, you must fill out the interest form from Google, which can be found here.
The other benefit of updating rates in your Google Business profile is to simultaneously highlight your unique offerings. Local Posts for Google Business Profile allows you to share updates in real-time around certain topics that matter most to travelers. Ideas can include:
- Any hotel policy changes or updates due to COVID-19
- Special features that your hotel offers, where competitor hotels do not
- Showcasing your best images and videos of the hotel property
The travel industry is recovering leaps and bounds to pre-pandemic levels. Google updated its hotel booking experience to benefit both the advertiser and the traveler.
Because the traveler can book directly through your site, it eliminates additional barriers to completing the booking. This could help increase your conversion rates as well.
By creating more free booking link space, you can gain additional competitive bookings at no cost to you. If you’re not utilizing this program yet, get started by contacting Google through their interest form.
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