Better Hotel Search, Direct Bookings, and Crowdsourcing on Google

This is a big week for hotel metasearch. In the last few days alone, we’ve spotted three really important experiments or updates that have the potential to cause big shifts in the hotel marketing world. Further, the velocity of these changes point to a Google Travel team that is serious about iteration. The quick evolutions and the growth we’re seeing really solidify Google’s position as a major player in the space.

First, check out this new hotel search experience on Google, an excellent spot by Brad Brewer:

Screen Shot 2015-07-08 at 8.15.08 AM

Looks like the mapresults, right? This is actually just one click from the SERP… instead of showing a floating hotel information panel, Google is layering in Google Maps and maintaining the hotel list. Here’s why this is meaningful:

  1. It will encourage cross shopping on Google, which should drive more interaction on the hotel search results overall, and could drive increases in traffic
  2. It exposes users to lots of additional information about the hotel(s) they are looking at, which could help increase conversion rates on Hotel Ads
  3. It continues to blur the lines between the existing Search Types that Hotel Ads advertisers use for targeting and optimization, meaning it’s time to focus on new multiplier tests

This update alone would be enough, but…

Booking Direct on Google

Second, in doing some unrelated research this week, we spotted a new direct booking experience on Google desktop. This booking experience differs significantly from the Limited Offers experiences we’ve covered previously.

Screen Shot 2015-07-07 at 6.18.12 PMRoom Selection after clicking the Hotel Ad for “The New York Palace”

Screen Shot 2015-07-07 at 6.18.23 PMConfirming some minor details from Google Wallet, all were prefilled

Screen Shot 2015-07-07 at 6.18.57 PMFinal confirmation before the booking is complete

Screen Shot 2015-07-07 at 6.19.10 PMProcessing!

Screen Shot 2015-07-07 at 6.19.43 PM

What you can see above is that (from the user perspective) this booking experience took place 100% on, with a little bit of branding for the hotel. The confirmation e-mail that I received was from the hotel directly. The booking looked to pass through SynXis / Sabre Hospitality Solutions.

Since I already have Wallet setup, this was a very smooth and quick transaction.

Crowdsourcing for Better Hotel Information

Third, we’re seeing Google crowdsourcing more information about hotels on Mobile through brief surveys. Hat tip to our friends and clients at PMG for sharing this with us last week.

Check out the survey experience that shows up in the bottom portion of the first screenshot below…


With this kind of streamlined experience, it’s conceivable that Google could build out an incredibly rich data set around hotels. Great information exists around amenities today, but the type of things we’re seeing surveyed are so much more granular than any other data set that we’ve seen to date.

If this hits any sort of critical mass, I can’t imagine a better data set about hotels would exist.

What’s next?

Google is displaying richer search experiences, collecting better data about hotels, and facilitating bookings in a way that looks direct from the consumer perspective.

Speaking a little more broadly, we’re seeing Google Travel evolve user interfaces and feature sets faster than ever. With the search results rollout above, we’re hearing some chatter from international colleagues that indicates this is a global release, where historically we’ve seen some experiences take months before making their way abroad.

Google’s Hotel Ads program has been a great growth story for many of our clients for the past 2+ years, and these changes indicate that we’ll continue to see more growth and traffic from this channel.