In the age of internet and mobile phones, online marketing for hotels is vital. Travelers regularly turn to search engines such as Google and Bing for travel ideas and inspiration. Per The 2014 Traveler’s Road to Decision¹ report by Google, as much as 65% of leisure travelers and 69% of business travelers turn to the web for research before finalizing their travel destination. Search engines and hotel websites need to provide these searchers with the best and most relevant information, including amenities such as free parking and Wi-Fi, or hotels may lose potential bookings.
Hotel amenities are a value added benefit to guests and one that online searchers rely on when choosing their hotel stay. Since amenities influence guest decisions, Google has taken the website amenities information one step further and integrated it into search results pages. To cater to travelers needs Google has begun showing hotel amenities in the three pack listings just under the pay-per-click advertisements.
Hotel websites should highlight amenities such as parking, Wi-Fi access, complimentary breakfast, and access to the swimming pool, or services such as currency exchange, and express check-in/check-out. Having these amenities and services visible on the website – both to users and to search crawlers – enables Google to include the information in the search results. When a user clicks the hotel’s link on the results page, all of the hotel amenities display. Equally important to note is that Google will also highlight amenities not available at the hotel (such as not allowing pets, pictured below).
The impact of Google’s inclusion of amenities in the results is made clear when hotels are weighed against each other. In the example below, two Santa Clara, CA hotels that are priced the same ($139) appear one after the other on the results page. One hotel is offering free breakfast and Wi-Fi while the other only free breakfast. Making this information so clearly visible in the search results allows value-seeking travelers to make a purchase decision directly from the results page, without having to click deeper into multiple websites to explore the features and amenities available.
In an increasingly competitive market, hotel amenities can be a key differentiation allowing smaller hotels to compete with the bigger brands. In this next example, a three-star hotel in Sacramento, CA offering free Wi-Fi is listed higher than a four-star hotel without amenities. Suddenly, the three-star hotel may appeal to a wider audience simply by marketing the amenities in a more visible manner.
Every hotel is unique and when presented and marketed correctly customers will be at the doorstep. Since the hotel amenities on Google search results are curated from a variety of sources² , hotels should manage their amenities on all distribution platforms to ensure consistency and accuracy. Having the right information in the best places for consumers and search engines is a good way to stay on top of your search engine optimization (SEO) game, and be visible to potential customers whenever a search is made.
Contributed by: Gaurav Varma, Product Marketing Manager