Google is Taking on OTA’s with Hotel Ads

Google jumped-in to the hotel search game with products like Google Hotel Finder, Google+ Local, Google Maps, and Google Hotel Price Ads.Screen Shot 2015-09-24 at 5.07.49 AM

Recently the result of searching for a hotel on Google provided a carousel-style display of options, ranked by Google+ reviews and other organic factors. 

Below the local carousel, you will see the usual pack of Online Travel Agencies (Expedia,, Priceline), other paid text ads, then organic results; each fighting for your booking.

In order to make it easier for hotels to connect with travelers, Google is rolling out Google Hotel Ads.

Dealing with OTA’s can be a PITA

Online Travel Agencies (OTA’s) are hotel’s frenemy; they are good for filling up rooms, but can take upwards of 32% of a booking, possibly earning more than the hotel.

The Expedia’s and Priceline’s of the internet have fewer competitors as they absorb more distribution channels, making them too big for hotels not to use. And Hotels of all sizes struggle with OTA’s that outrank them organically, even for their own brandname.

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Google Hotel Ads provide the opportunity for hotels to connect with a traveler and pay on an industry-standard commission basis, instead of a cost-per-click (which in travel can mean mega-bucks). By attracting a direct booking, hotels can also avoid sharing revenue with an OTA.

Google Hotel Ads will show on both desktop and mobile searches, which is different from previous Google hotel products that were geared towards last-minute mobile bookings, instead of bookings made after the research process on a desktop.

By connecting with a traveler at the right moment, using whatever device they choose, the goal is to make it as easy as possible to both research and book.

One of the major differences from previous results is that Google Hotel Ads will display hotel amenities next to the competition, making it easier for travelers to research and compare.

For example, instead of four clicks to find out if a hotel is pet-friendly, the Ads will display top-level key info like parking options, wi-fi availability, pet-friendlyness, and price.

Google Hotel Ads also make it easy to see street views that can help travelers avoid (or, at least be prepared for) a shady-hotel.

This isn’t the silver bullet solution for hotels to grab bookings away from OTA’s, but it does provide the opportunity to play in the same league.

Like other Google Ad solutions, the price of Hotel Ads can be adjusted and optimized based on factors including search location and time; but also hotel-specific factors like length of stay, market availability, and adjusting rack rates.