Calling the integration of travel content into the site and portal a success worthy of expansion, Google is adding direct booking features, including in Google Maps, to help fill hotel rooms in 2022.
Noting in a March 16 blog post that searches such as “spring break” and “flights to Hawaii” are now being tracked at near pre-pandemic levels, Google said: “While interest in travel rebounds, businesses need simple ways to connect with potential customers [so] we’re announcing new tools to help hoteliers find people ready to book their next trip.
Building on an initiative launched in the first quarter of 2021, when Google made it free for hotels and travel agencies to appear alongside hotel booking links to access better details and pricing information hotels, the new features go even further in converting searchers into reservations.
Taking the example of the myhotelshop booking engine – where additional bookings increased by 30% in the summer of 2021 – as proof of what direct contextual links can do to increase a hotel’s revenue, Google adds free links for hotels and online travel agencies (OTA) to Maps and more.
See also: Google offers free hotel booking links in search and maps
“Free booking links appear on the hotel booking module next to hotel ads when travelers search for rooms at a given hotel,” Google said. “Travelers will have more options to book a hotel at the best available rate, while travel agencies have a new, free way to generate more bookings.”
The free links show the name of the OTA or booking partner and the room rate. Google says it doesn’t collect payment for placing or engaging users with the links.
In the background, a report function allows partners to see how many people have clicked on the free links. Google said it plans to expand the feature soon to include other metrics to further incentivize hotels to integrate the new travel search functionality.
Businesses with a verified profile can also message customers directly through the Google Maps app, news site Search Engine Journal reported, and Google also plans to roll out similar features to its search pages.
See also: Google Maps integrates parking and transit payments
Millions of reservations in the balance
Travel industry news site Skift reported: “To some extent, this democratizes booking options in Google Search when looking for specific hotels, as online travel agencies such as Expedia and Booking.com, each with billions of dollars in their coffers to spend on advertising to win customers, have dominated tourism advertising on Google, making even the big hotel chains weak advertising competitors, which are certainly not in the running. just stay.
Skift added that “small online travel agencies and hotels will undoubtedly see their bookings from Google increase, just as they did when Google also added free booking links to complement advertising in Google Travel. “.
Cartography and faux pas
Not everyone sees it as a victory. Skift City Kayak CEO Steve Hafner said: “This seems like an easy PR move by Google and sadly consistent with their past opacity. Only Google will know how much traction these free links will receive and what impact they will have on ad auctions. I wouldn’t expect much – especially if they start to miss a quarter.
Now is a good time for good news, especially about Google Maps.
The US Department of Justice (DOJ) is accelerating its investigation into whether Google Maps’ practice of bundling the service with other Google software violates anticompetitive practices, Reuters reported on Wednesday (March 30).
See also: DOJ speeds up Google Maps investigation