Google recently announced the release of a ‘Free Booking Links’ module that allows Hotels and Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) increased visibility in Google Travel. For hotel marketers, this change is good news, as it means there is a new source of free direct bookings that complements your existing metasearch campaigns.
Why the change? A key component to booking a hotel is price, and Google’s objective is to improve the Google Travel user experience (as well as incentivize hotels to display their pricing on Google, thus increasing their inventory).
If you are a metasearch advertiser, then you are already participating. But if you are not running a metasearch campaign with Sojern, now is the time to start – and take advantage of the additional boost in bookings driven by Free Hotel Links.
Have questions? Want to get started on this free channel? Below, we list everything you need to know about this opportunity.
How can I participate and have my hotel listed for free?
Any hotel or OTA can appear in the module – but you must have an Availability, Rates, and Inventory (ARI) feed integrated through the Google Hotel Center and be an active metasearch advertiser to participate. We also recommend checking that your Google My Business page is up to date.
What does the Free Booking Links module look like?
The module is beneath the ad placement on the hotel page under ‘All options’ where all hotels, whether or not they are active metasearch advertisers, are displayed.
Example: Hotel Captain Cook is a metasearch advertiser and their listing appears in both the metasearch and organic listing module. In addition, because Hotel Captain Cook is a metasearch advertiser, they also appear at the top of search results and on Google Maps.
Where does the ‘free booking links’ module appear?
It only appears in the hotel page pricing results, which users access through search, Google Maps, or Google Travel.
Who decides the order of the list?
The algorithm is managed by Google and takes in many factors. We do know that the algorithm does not take into account commercial activity or payment, and they seem to give preference to hotel direct pricing.
Will I be charged for bookings generated from the module?
No, you will not be charged for the bookings.
I’m running my campaign with Sojern, how will it be affected?
If you are already running metasearch, you do not need to do anything: your campaign will continue to perform, and we will track paid conversions and organic conversions from the module. We can provide organic conversion reporting upon request.
If you are not running metasearch, now is a great time to start – set up your ARI feed and become an active metasearch advertiser to take advantage of Google’s Free Booking Links. Our customers who include metasearch as a part of their Sojern campaign see a significant increase in direct bookings to their website.
You can also see how our partnership with the Valencia Hotel Group generated $1M+ in total direct booking revenue when they ran a multi-channel campaign with us.
I’m running a campaign with Sojern, can you set up my ARI feed?
We are happy to set up ARI feeds for any customer running an active metasearch campaign with us.
Will Sojern provide reporting on the number of bookings generated from the module?
Sojern is working to adjust tracking so we can report metasearch-driven bookings vs. organic bookings from the module. For now, your account will only include metasearch-driven bookings.
What can I expect as far as performance from my Sojern campaign?
Since the module only appears on the hotel page in Google Travel, it’s still too early to tell how this will contribute to overall performance. Initially, we estimate it might be 2-3% of total traffic to your website.
I have a few more questions.
Please reach out directly to your Customer Success Manager, or you can Contact Us.