Our stance on hotel and travel product marketing on line is quite simple, believe in all things Google and you’ll not go wrong. We also believe in the Pareto principle, Google is 92% of UK travel search, so we don’t really worry too much about the other 8%.
We love Google because we think Google has ‘got it’ when it comes to hotels and travel, whilst social media concepts like Facebook, Twitter &c have not.
Google price ads for hotels, now well entrenched in Google Maps/Places, and moving to Google’s new Hotel Finder, is, and will continue to challenge change the whole current travel commerce landscape. Not before time. The OTA’s have had it too good for too long, the rate parity concept is completely flawed and hotels want rid of it. Google’s tools give back power to the hotels to display their best rates on line, in the same price ad as the OTA rates for the same property. I will never buy a hotel room from an OTA if I can get the same rate directly from the hotel.
The ‘intelligentia’ of the hotel industry have been bemoaning the power of the OTA’s and merchants for years, the ‘numbers’ are consistently well proven, yet the hotel industry seems singularly unable to combat their power and reclaim the rights to full control of their own products and to minimise their inventory risk. Google with its price ads and hotel finder has arrived at just the right time, and will help hoteliers regain rightful control of their product, its availability, its price and its delivery.
Google has challenged on line marketers and SEO specialists in hotels and travels for years. And so it should. Market and competitive position has to be won, not taken for granted, and reference has been made elsewhere to ‘lazy hotelier’s who become dependent and subservient to on line merchants and OTA’s – and more recently to Groupon and Expedia. This is road to nowhere stuff in the long run, and in the context of current and emerging travel shopper behaviour. We have provided on line marketing services to hotels for almost 15 years, and have witnessed virtually the whole journey of how Google has morphed and adapted its models to provide more useful travel and hotel information to travel shoppers. Google has always been our number 1 friend and challenge in this process, and our intense focus and concentration on Google over 15 years has given us valuable insights and understandings which continue to give us, and grow, competitive advantage in our business and marketing solutions for our hotel clients.
Also despite the plethora of ‘how you can’t do without non-travel social media’ articles – and the emergence of the ‘social media expert’, it is proving to be at best neutral in contributing to, or generating, on line sales and conversions – and equally virtually unworkable as a reputation management tool. Like them or hate them, travel ‘social media’ like Trip Advisor are not going away anytime soon. Again the Pareto principle works and we get our clients to focus 90% on Trip Advisor and 10% on key OTA reviews as the external basis for their reputation management and related service standard development issues, supplemented where possible by on line guest surveys.
Google Plus presents a massive challenge to Facebook &c as it develops, and it will succeed because its governing principle is ‘private sharing’. Facebook was about telling everyone what you’re up to, Twitter was about information sharing, Google Plus is about sharing stuff in the way you want to. This is especially relevant in a day and age of challenging, and breaching people’s privacy – and serious public concern.
We could go on, and on, and on. Google has a firm hold over, or a key competitive position in, all the major variables, devices and channels influencing and shaping travel shopper behaviour and ecommerce today. This is anything but accidental. The ITA takeover issue raised huge concerns. These will become yesterday’s news. Smartphone, maps, places, search, adwords, browsers (Chrome), deals, hotel finders, instant, plus, gmail development, ITA, price ads, toolbars, plus 1 buttons – – – and many more – Google are covering all bases on all touch points with the modern travel shopper
And a set of analytics to match, free to use. Not surprising. Google Analytics is in the main capable of development to challenge any paid for analytics tool for effectiveness for most travel businesses, and as you would expect, integrates seamlessly with other Google tools and devices in a way third party solutions simply can’t.