Google’s “experiment”… Hotel Finder recently had a face-lift, and we really like what they’ve done with it! First though, because we get this question often, Google refers to Hotel Finder as an “experiment” because they are actively tweaking and improving it…but it is NOT going away. Even Google is not going to pay 700+ Million for a piece of software that almost instantly allows them to compete with meta-search engines only to walk away from this enormous ad referral opportunity.
Google’s Hotel Finder is here to stay, and will continue to improve – so hotels…you need to get your rates and inventory loaded on this channel so you can compete fairly with your OTA partners that are also promoting your hotel. Although it may sound like we are anti-OTA we are definitely not. We’ve worked on the hotelier side for many years and truly believe that the billboard effect and marketing reach OTA’s provide is exceptional and necessary for almost every hotel. However, we do believe in leveling the playing field and giving hotels the same opportunity to convert a user searching on Google into a customer.
Below are the recent changes and updates to Google’s Hotel Finder:
- Opens with full map view on right side and hotel list in left column
- Filtering options have been moved to the top above map & hotel results
- Promoted Hotels Ad is prominently placed as top 1 (and 2) positions
- Promoted Hotels Ad selects only 1 OTA (or the hotel) to link to – no other options are given (exclusive placement chosen by Google based on Bid amount and Quality Score)
- Promoted Hotel/s Ad is a 2nd placement, in addition to the hotels’ regular listing that remains in the list for sorting/filtering. Promoted Hotels Ad doesn’t have shortlist link
- Shortlist – now more of a gadget, has been moved to bottom of users screen and is always visible when scrolling list, filtering, sorting
- Map is always visible even when hotel details are shown, map can be toggled back on by clicking on far right side of screen for map to move to forefront
- Map enhancements – if using “hotels by travel time” there is now a “Starting Point” green map bubble that the user can place wherever they’d like to set as the point, then measure distance based on selected amount of time for taking public transportation or walking
We expect for Google to continue to make enhancements to the Hotel Finder tool, as well as eventually remove the “experiment” tag, but only Google will know when they are ready to do so. Until then, we’ll continue to update you on enhancements and travel related releases.