Google’s accommodation search and comparison service Hotel Finder is slowly but surely gaining momentum in the US, and will create another valuable opportunity for you to promote your resort online when it gets rolled out fully over here in the near future.
Although it has drawn comparisons to Online Travel Agencies like Expedia, the travel planning tool differs from most of these sites in that it tries to present its users with the most ‘relevant’ (instead of simply the most popular) results based on these 5 ranking factors:
One of the biggest factors Google uses to rank properties in the Hotel Finder listings is their online feedback – and not just the quantity but the quality of these reviews. Early signs suggest you’ll be hard pressed to find a property with less than a 4 star rating in the very top results, and when this does happen it’s probably down to the volume of Google+ reviewers logged into their accounts.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the search giant gives more weight to reviews written by users logged into its own social network than it does to ‘anonymous’ feedback when ranking results.
Room pricing is another factor that impacts Hotel Finder rankings. When a user first starts using the tool, they’ll be presented with properties with a variety of different rates. Striving, as always, to deliver the most relevant, personalised results possible for its users, Google adjusts the results it presents over time based on user behaviour. So, if you’re looking for somewhere to stay in Sydney and you’re constantly clicking on the cheapest hotels, the least expensive properties will eventually appear higher up the rankings.
3. Presence on Google+ Local
It’s worth noting that the company gives more ranking value to accommodation properties that have taken ownership of their Google+ Local pages and are active users of the Google+ social platform.
Most hotels will have by now uploaded at least a couple of eye-catching photos to their Google+ Local pages to showcase their properties. If you’re one of the few that hasn’t, you may miss out on prime ranking positions in Hotel Finder when the service goes live in Australia in the coming months.
5. Location in relation to city centre
Hotel Finder assumes most of its users will be looking for somewhere to stay in the heart of things. It begins each search for the perfect hotel from the city centre by default, and works outwards from there.
A Word on Hotel Price Ads
Hotel Price Ads is a pay-per-click program Google has incorporated into Hotel Finder. It is completely separate to AdWords and you’ll need to connect to the program through your Central Reservation System (CRS) or Online Reservations System before you can begin using it.
It’s expected that Google will steadily shift more and more traffic to Hotel Price Ads, possibly at the expense of AdWords and organic search results. The program should provide a valuable alternative to the current OTA booking system, and Google has promised to take a smaller commission than most of these metasearch travel sites do currently.
Much like AdWords, accommodation owners and OTAs must bid on certain locations and words to win Hotel Price Ads. However, thanks to the comparative nature of Hotel Finder, holiday planners who click on a Hotel Price Ad are likely to have already compared your property to others in your area, leading to a much higher booking rate and a better return on your investment.
Hotel Finder and Hotel Paid Ads are still in their early stages, but with almost two thirds of travel searches originating from Google, it seems safe to say the tool is another development ignored at your own peril.
Do you plan to invest in Hotel Paid Ads? Let us know in the comments below!