Google recently made a game-changing announcement that they are introducing free booking links in Google Hotel Search. This new feature has the potential to bring a major change to the online distribution landscape and impact the way travelers find and book their stays. It’s also opened the opportunity for hoteliers to drive more direct bookings directly on their website, forgoing the costly commission fees charged by OTAs.
How can hoteliers and hosts take advantage of the new Google Booking Links?
We break down everything you need to know, including how to get in Google hotel search results.
Free booking links appear on the hotel booking module alongside hotel ads when travelers look for rooms at a given hotel. For hoteliers and hosts, this means you are now showing up on hotel search on Google, similar to the image below:
By launching Free Booking Links, Google made some significant changes to the way they expose an individual property’s direct booking engine on Google Hotel Search.
In the past, lodging businesses had to pay to run a ‘Google Hotel Ad’ in order to be displayed for direct bookings on Google. As of now, any eligible property that has rates and availability synced to Google via an integration partner will now have their direct booking engine or ‘official website’ displayed for direct booking on Google Hotel Search.
With your hotel’s free Google Booking Links displayed to users across hotel searches on Google, travelers will be able to make a booking directly with your property. That means, you control the guest experience on your site and collect the guest data.
To be eligible for Google’s Free Booking Links a property must comply with all Google limitations concerning rate plans, taxes, and fees.
In order to qualify for Google Booking links, your property must meet the following criteria:
With the launch of this new feature, many hoteliers find themselves wondering how does Google Hotel Search differ from Google Hotel Ads? and How do I get my hotel on Google?
Google has a number of different ways to be listed in search results. We’ll break down your options for how to get in Google search results along with an image to illustrate where your property will be shown.
Google also allows properties to bid for preferential placement in Google Hotel Search through Google Hotel Ads. However, if you have Ads Hotel enabled, you don’t need to switch to Google Hotel Search since all eligible properties will be included in there and will benefit from the organic listing. Since Ads Hotel allows you to connect with other platforms too, you can keep both.
The benefits of having a booking engine that integrates with Google Hotel Search in real-time include:
You can see now how having a booking engine that enables your property to be listed on Google Hotel Search is not only beneficial but also profitable to your property. Now we’ll dive into getting your property raked, so you can get the most benefit from your free listing.
The most important thing to note is that hotels can’t appear on Google’s Free Booking Listings on their own and have to connect through one of Google’s approved integration partners to get listed. Cloudbeds is proud to be listed as one of Google’s approved partners and is excited to offer the opportunity to drive more direct bookings using our commission-free, mobile-friendly booking engine.
Ranking on Google also tends to depend on three main factors:
Since Google Free Booking Links just launched, it’s still early to make concrete predictions about how their algorithm will determine the ranking, but we’ll know more soon. In the meantime, use the three points mentioned above as a strong guide for best practices.
Getting started takes two steps:
Cloudbeds is currently rolling out this feature to our customers in phases. Please see here for more details
Note that it takes Google up to two weeks to match a property. After this period, we encourage you to confirm that your property is up and running by searching it on Google. If you can not see your property booking link in Hotel Search after you become live, please reach out to our support team.
Cloudbeds users can check if your property is live on Google Hotel Search by 1. accessing the ‘Channels’ tab under the Channel Distribution section in your account and 2. checking if you have the following banner:
For Cloudbeds users, your property will be displayed in the Google Free Booking Links, and if a reservation occurs, you’ll see a reservation with source ‘Website-Google’ on your Cloudbeds account.
When in doubt, check out the following infographic for everything you need to know about connecting your Cloudbeds account to Google Free Booking Links.
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