Google’s free hotel booking links arrive on Search and Maps
The expanded capabilities may be good news for hotels, but not so much for online travel agencies.
Google is expanding its free hotel booking links to show on Search and Maps, the company announced Wednesday. The company is also adding reporting capabilities, support for hotel rates in Google Business Profiles and rolling out Local Posts to hotels as well.
Free hotel booking links expand to Search and Maps. In March 2021, Google started offering free listings within Google Hotel search. Now, the company is adding support for free hotel booking links on the Search results page and Google Maps. When a user clicks on these links, they’ll be taken to the hotel’s (or online travel platform’s) site where they can complete the booking.
New click reporting. Hotel owners can see how many people clicked on their free booking links via a new report in Hotel Center. The company plans to expand reporting to include impressions and booking value in the coming weeks.
Hotel rates in Google Business Profiles. Starting in April, individual hotels that meet eligibility requirements can manually add their rates to their Google Business Profile to participate in free hotel booking links.
Hotel managers interested in this feature can fill out this form to learn more.
Hotel Local Posts. The Local Post feature for Google Business Profiles has rolled out to hotel owners. They can use Local Posts to, for example, update customers on COVID-related changes, share descriptions of special features that are unique to their hotel or add media, such as images and video.
Why we care. These features can provide hotels with more visibility opportunities. The nature of these opportunities is particularly important: Search and Maps are two very popular Google services, so the added reach could be substantial.
Reporting capabilities may help hotel managers get a better idea of how many bookings Google’s free listings are bringing them. The impression and booking value information will add more context to that data.
And, the integration with Google Business Profile can help hotel managers get free booking listings without having to navigate complex requirements.
While this is largely good news for hotels, it may be another nail in the coffin for online travel agencies, as search engines have been releasing features for this vertical for years.
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