Google has been quietly running some experiments for Hotels that will probably have a big effect on all vacation rental owners.
Google has been playing around with flights and hotels in the travel space for some time. The current idea is travellers can look up flights and then look up hotels – no big deal.
The big deal is that google has a Hotels search portal that travellers can use to look up hotels, but includes other accommodation too. It allows travellers to look at the hotels and other accommodation in an area, compare them and … BOOK DIRECT!
Skift says in a recent article that Google Hotels has huge implications, with unsettling pressure on online travel agencies.
Google is treading a fine line here. It wants the ads (mainly from online travel agencies) and revenue that come up with a normal search for accommodation. It also wants the flights travel link to hotels and accommodation. It may one day offer advertising to allow end accommodation providers to advertise direct. In the meantime it is running experiments and keeping its options open. It is worth keeping an eye open and ensure you are listed ready – more on that below.
You can see the Hotels search portal at www.google.com/travel/hotels. It goes to this innocent looking page:
You can try it yourself.
The traveller enters the location and up come hundreds of hotels in the area, 12 at a time, with a map. The traveller can filter on dates and price and deals to see the places on offer. All of a sudden this is enormously powerful. When the traveller clicks on a selected hotel, they are shown prices on the hotel’s own website, as well as prices on other places advertised like booking.com, expedia, agoda, etc. If they wish, they can book direct.
When the hotels run out, other options come up, including holiday houses/vacation rentals, probably for regional locations.
As an example, here is the Google Hotels listing for Wye River, my little regional village, and I was surprised to see my holiday rental ‘Sea Zen’ listed as a hotel, bottom left on the image:
When a traveller clicks on the Sea Zen listing, they can choose between my website or on my Booking.com entry. My hope is they will click on my website and book direct.
How do the pieces fit?
At the moment, it is hard to find the Hotels portal unless you know about it or use it as part of Google Flights. It is the same underlying technology as the map and listing that comes up when a traveller does a normal google search for accommodation, but that just currently comes up with 4 results.
What does this mean for vacation rental owners?
You should keep an eye open for Google Hotels and how it evolves, and make sure you will be listed.
To be listed on the normal Google map and Google Hotels, you just need to list on Google My Business.
It is free. You can see how to do it by reading my earlier article:
Or see the Google instructions here.
If you haven’t already listed on My Business, you should do it now.
If you are already on google My Business, you don’t need to do anything. However, it also helps to have your own website so Google My Business sends visitors direct to your own website.
As news emerges about Google Hotels in the coming year, we’ll keep you informed.