In case you haven’t noticed, Google Hotel Ads is fundamentally changing the way hotels are booked online. More specifically, Metasearch is changing how guests book their next hotel stay. Two out of three guests or around 67% of hotel searches start with Google. Not so surprising when you consider that Google owns about the same percentage of the Search Engine space. However, by also offering a range of OTA-style filtering tools, Google Hotel Ads gives guests a place to research, compare and decide on where they want to stay and who to buy from.
It is clear that Google is on its way to try to own the future of online hotel research, and many hotels still consider Metasearch as a critical battleground towards being able to be in the direct bookings game.
But the reality is that the majority of prospective guests don’t even make it to your website. That’s right. Around 83% of hotel name searches will be intercepted by third parties and you’ll be lucky if they get to your new fancy website at any time during their research and booking process. No matter how much you optimize your website for higher conversions, you won’t be able to convert if people don’t end up on your website and complete their bookings elsewhere (read OTAs websites.
The strategy is to find the OTAs Achilles heel and beat them at their own game. Yes, OTAs are powerful bidders but they can be beaten. Meta auctions succeed by selling guests’ attention to the highest bidder, and right now most hotels -especially independent hotels- struggle to pay the premium. The majority of Hotels miss out on the most engaged guests because of one-size-fits-all bids and limited budgets. In the paid search world it is called losing “impression share” due to budget. Or basically, your ads won’t even be served since you can’t bid high enough to compete.
But hotels have data about their guests that OTAs never will. Guest Acquisition calculates the potential value of a guest and the probability of them converting to make smarter decisions on how to spend in metasearch.
Unlike OTA websites, hoteliers who acquire guests via metasearch will still own their customer data and relationships. But OTAs continue to have the advantage when competing in meta auctions. They are masters of data, combining information about customer lifetime value, engagement level and market parity rates to impact their bid levels and win bookings every time. With neither the budget nor the scale that allows for this sophisticated, algorithmic approach to meta, many hotels once again risk being crushed by OTAs.
But while hotels may not be able to match the scale and strength of an OTA, they can however outsmart OTAs by utilizing their own and unique data for an unfair advantage. Rather than increasing budgets and entering an impossible to win bidding war, a smarter approach to counteract meta is using their own first party data, social signals, cross platform targeting, guest behavioral data and booking data. With proper execution, they could be bidding successfully on the right traffic for their business and winning direct bookings as a result.
Since few hotels have the capacity for such time-intensive and complex work, MGR’s Digital Marketing Team takes care of all the correct targeting and research for you resulting in placing the right ads in front of those guests with the higher probability of converting at the lowest possible bid.
Internally code named “Intelligent Match” the end result is higher conversion rates without wasting ad spend on guests with low or no intention of booking at any particular time. It also means that hotels will not be paying more to be in higher bids that only result in OTAs displaying a lower daily rate. With MGR’s approach to your first party data information, we intercept those potential guest before they even get to metasearch.
And this is just the beginning. Our Market Intelligence project is loaded with experimental techniques to intercept buyers and leads before they are lured by other marketing giants… and it keeps progressing week after week. Just like a platoon of 16 Navy SEALs can destroy an entire enemy infrastructure with highly targeted missions, you can apply similar marketing techniques to beat larger marketing establishments before the take your customers away from you.
Thank you for reading. Until next time, this is Manuel Gil del Real (MGR)
Photo by Salvador Martin Yeste on Unsplash