By Angela Green:
In the world of hospitality, much like real estate, the mantra is often ‘location, location, location’. However, for hoteliers and revenue managers, the key phrase shifts to ‘distribution, distribution, distribution’.
Balancing and investing wisely in distribution channels can be a perpetual challenge, given the myriad of options available. These encompass a hotel’s own website, social media channels, direct phone bookings, commission agreements with online travel agencies (OTAs), Global Distribution Systems (GDS), and metasearch platforms, to name just a few.
Navigating this crowded distribution landscape becomes even more complex as market segments diversify. In the context of ongoing economic uncertainty, rising costs, and staffing challenges, hoteliers today face the crucial task of optimising their distribution strategy. It’s essential to maintain accurate data across all distribution channels, making the right technology investments to achieve this efficiently.
Enter Google Free Booking Links – A Game Changer in Hotel Distribution
Google’s free booking links, as the name suggests, are unpaid links prominently featured on various sections of Google Business Profile. These links are ranked based on various factors, including consumer preferences, landing page experiences, and the historical accuracy of prices provided by hotels to Google.
From a user experience perspective, these links display hotel names and real-time room rates. When a guest decides to book, a simple click takes them directly to the hotel’s booking engine to complete the reservation. For hoteliers, this means a direct connection between the searching and booking stages of the guest journey, leading to increased direct traffic, bookings, and revenue.
What sets Google Free Booking Links apart is the absence of a contractual agreement or fees between hoteliers and Google. Google Business Profile is entirely free, with the primary investment being the time required to set up and maintain the profile. In many cases, this profile already exists, so the focus lies in claiming ownership and ensuring potential guests find all the necessary information before booking, including location details, contact information, and amenities. These attributes continue to evolve to align with guest demands and preferences.
Sustainability: A Growing Factor in Booking Decisions
Sustainability is emerging as a critical factor in booking decisions, with 83% of travelers emphasising its importance, according to Google’s research. Booking.com’s Sustainable Travel Report further reinforces this trend, revealing that 74% of travelers seek more sustainable travel choices. Google introduced Hotel Sustainability features in September 2021, providing a platform for hoteliers to highlight eco certifications and sustainable sourcing practices, effectively showcasing their commitment to sustainability.
Google’s Role in the Travel Landscape
Google’s reports indicate a resurgence in travel searches, particularly in the past year. Google’s Hotel Search platform displays prices, availability, and booking links across various platforms. On a broader scale, Google assists users throughout their entire travel journey, enabling hoteliers to control customer acquisition costs, manage pricing, build their brand, and strengthen guest relationships.
Free vs. Paid: Which Is Better?
The question often arises: Are Google free booking links truly superior to paid Hotel Ads? While there is no one-size-fits-all answer, it’s clear that free booking links significantly boost direct distribution. Since partnering with Google, hoteliers have reported remarkable results, including securing the top spot in free listings, an increase of 11% to 25% in direct bookings, 50% more monthly direct website visitors, and an impressive 205% return on investment from additional direct revenues compared to OTA commission-based bookings over a 30-day period.
One Platform for Seamless Integration
Hoteliers can effortlessly sync inventory and rates with Google’s free booking links using the DBM Google Connector from Guestline. This seamless integration ensures real-time updates, minimising the risk of overbooking or incorrect rates. The accuracy of price history plays a pivotal role in Google’s ranking of hotel direct links, making the quality of the connection paramount for ranking success.
In Conclusion: Act Now to Optimise Your Distribution Strategy
With the exceptional performance of free booking links, there’s no better time for hoteliers to prioritise their distribution strategy. While OTAs still have a role to play, it’s essential to reevaluate their place in the overall strategy. The ability to secure a booking while a guest is actively searching provides invaluable advantages. Don’t miss the opportunity to maximise your hotel’s distribution potential with Google Free Booking Links.
More information about Optimising Hotel Distribution Strategy with Guestline is available here.