Online Travel Agents (OTAs) have been a hot topic amongst hoteliers for many years now, but this week, the plot thickens…
Within the oligopoly of the OTA market, of which Expedia and Booking.com have become the two main players, these middle-man-like platforms provide such convenience for prospective guests that travel providers have previously had little choice but to succumb to OTA listings. As of this week, however, Google will be making significant changes to the ways in which it manages hotel booking links, shaking up the ecosystem of hotel bookings.
Many travel enthusiasts will be aware of the hotel booking links ranked within Google.com/travel, of which paid ads would feature first based on a traditional bidding system. This week, Google has announced the introduction of organic links, enabling hotels, as well as OTAs, to gain more inclusive visibility, free of charge.
For those of you reading this, try searching for accommodation in a specific destination, such as “Hotels in London”. Target your own property perhaps. When clicking on a particular hotel, a new overview tab will now appear within the booking module, where you should find two new organic slots, in addition to up to four advertised slots. Now, clicking on the “prices” tab will display those advertised listings, plus an unlimited number of organic, free booking links from all “eligible partners.”
Over the upcoming months, Google will be continuing to improve the onboarding process for new properties and partners via its Hotel Center, so if you’re struggling to find your property or understand the competitiveness of your Google listings then don’t hesitate to get in touch with a member of our team.
Whilst this presents yet another channel for travel marketers to manage, it also provides healthy opportunity to generate increased traffic, engagement and more direct bookings, so now is the perfect time to ensure that your Google profile is fully optimised ahead of the industry’s impending reopening.
To find out about Google’s other latest travel features in the wake of COVID-19, click here.