Google Pushes Hotel Booking Feature to the Front Page of SERPs

Google, having first introduced the hotel booking feature in November on a limited test basis, has now pushed the ability to procure a reservation to the front page of the main search results for both blended and 7-pack displays. The test from Google has included a limited number of travel sites and a few high end independent hotels on a pay per click basis. Google has not been forthcoming about how to participate in the program noting that the program would be available to all someday.

The option to book directly from the page is visible in both the blended results and the 7-Pack.

 

Interestingly, when the results present themselves in the 7-Pack, there is an option to view the pricing by a given range of dates that can be selected. When the dates are changed the pricing changes accordingly. (click to view larger):

Clearly Google is still developing around the 7-Pack display, implying that it is not going away anytime soon. Also it shows that Google continues to experiment with ways to monetize local. I am sure that Trip Advisor is not happy about this one.

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Google Pushes Hotel Booking Feature to the Front Page of SERPs by

23 thoughts on “Google Pushes Hotel Booking Feature to the Front Page of SERPs”

  1. Interesting if this goes for upcomming events also one day as you wrote yesterday.

    So different ticket vendors will be able to advertise directly in local serps?

  2. @Rasmus

    Great point… it certainly stands to reason if Google can build out reservation sales around a hotel, they would be capable of doing so around a venue.

    Lady Gaga will be happy… not so sure about Ticketmaster.

  3. @Justin

    I am curious though why they haven’t expanded the participation in the program or have they?

  4. @Mike – Not sure. I’m seeing it through all the major chains in cities across the US, but like you mentioned, through the travel sites. Haven’t seen it on any independents yet, although I’ve only done a few searches on some really high end and very small hotels / b&bs.

    Matter of time before it’s opened up, though, I’d imagine. Part of it might be needing to work with companies that have api’s / top end systems that can easily hook into theirs. I’d expect it sooner rather than later, though – kind of like opening up guaranteed #1 paid rankings (and not specifying specific keywords) beyond just the major movie studios, like they’re currently doing with media ads.

  5. Here is one hotel Places Listing for the Georgian Terrace in Atlanta that I know of that is independent. They are included by virtue of their membership in a marketing group.

    Their data is provided to Google through Worldhotels, a company that provides a marketing umbrella that allows independent hotels to maintain their uniqueness but take advantage of back room processes that benefit from scale like booking, rewards programs, negotiating better rates with online booking companies and obviously, access to Google’s Pay Per Click hotel booking test.

  6. Interesting display Mike…but so far not up here in google.ca land….

    Thing is, least to me, I wonder what this will “do” to the whole “search” rationale for users. Maybe if all the data that one might ever need comes up on page 1, no one might ever need to click/thru….

    I don’t think that is a possible outcome, but still worries me a bit…sigh…nothing remains the same, eh!

    :-)

    Jim

  7. TripAdvisor can’t really complain though, they must get a ridiculous amount of their traffic free from Google anyway. Actually, a look at TA SEO would be an interesting topic.

  8. TripAdvisor can complain when they get a substantial blow in the amount of traffic and bookings once this new Google venture successfully goes out there. Meanwhile, I hope rates that get displayed in the search results are updated real-time because it can really be a headache to consumers (and travel agents and hoteliers, perhaps) if otherwise.

  9. @Anna I’m sure Google will be insisting on instant prices which means they’re less likely to be real-time.

    I’m wondering how this will work when rolled out en masse. I’m assuming something a bit like adwords logic, bid for inclusion, then top 5 ordered by price. Except in cases of ‘rate parity’ obviously :p

    In which case it looks like it’ll just stay with the current big OTA’s pushing click costs sky high. I was excited about this as a possible new sales channel but forgot in my excitement that this is not price comparison this is search advertising.

    I hope I’m wrong, I hope it’s a fixed CPC and based on the best prices but that’s not gonna make as much money and Google’s excellent canteen isn’t going to pay for itself.

  10. Here is another independent property located in a tertiary market whose Places Page includes the booking feature. This property is connected to a marketing organization similar to what you describe for the Atlanta property. It’s interesting to see this in a market as small as Amarillo.

  11. @Azure

    The hotel you listed is not yet in the program…. like all hotels they have their web page listed but not the pricing

  12. Although you still see 7 pack results, I noticed a strong shift by Google to display more blended results as they rolled out the pricing ads to Page 1 results. Searches like Orlando Hotels, Boston Hotels until this week displayed 7 pack results now show blended.

    The changes Google made to include the pricing ads in the 7 pack are interesting. We will have to see if they increase or further decrease the use of the 7 pack in hotel SERPs.

  13. This is bad news for hotels, unless they can book guests directly. To maximize their revenue, hoteliers need direct bookings on their website, not third-party bookings.

    Independent hotels will be at a particular disadvantage unless Google opens this up for everyone as soon as possible.

  14. @zaluma
    Thanks for the tips on trust Intl and Pegasus. I was not aware of them. As noted above World Hotels is a third group that offers the google hotel booking feature.

    @Matt
    Hard to know if any changes to or from more blended results is permanent or not. They have not been very stable.

    @Marc
    Like the new local google inventory system, this is only available to those hotels with access to sophisticated software. It does appear to put the little hotels at a disadvantage although how much of one is not clear until the cost of a click with the new system can be determined.

  15. @Luca it’s also in the UK

    @ Marc This may not be so bad for the hotels.
    The listings always seem to show ‘Owner site’ which I’m assuming/hoping is from the free to use local business listings, therefore the OTA’s pay for traffic and the hotel gets it for free (unless they wish to show prices). Compared to other PPC or commission based comparisons sites this seems like a good deal for the hotels.

  16. yes ,some hotels did show it but most stand alone properties have not yet become active on this .

    surely more light needs to be shed on this issue,extremely interesting though.

    Avijit Arya

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