5 Phases to Relaunch Your Hotel's Marketing Campaigns During COVID-19

The world is slowly opening up again, and as hoteliers and other players in the hospitality game that means it’s time to welcome guests back with open, yet socially distant, arms. Similar to phased reopening plans throughout the country, your hotel’s marketing efforts should take the same approach. By phasing out your hotel marketing targeting you’ll be able to provide the most value for your property in this current market for less (we know many will still be operating with smaller budgets at this time). Below we’ll outline a great phased approach that can be curated to fit any property’s strategy amidst the COVID-19 crisis.

PHASE 1: Focus efforts on your hotel’s current and upcoming guests

 If your property isn’t ready to resume marketing efforts and outreach quite yet, then the most basic approach should be to focus on the guests you have. People are still traveling, even to the most restrictive areas, and your top priority should be to make their stay at your hotel as safe and comfortable as possible. This could include imposing smaller capacity caps, ensuring social distancing between guests, using stricter and more frequent cleaning guidelines, and more.

Focusing on your current hotel guests presents the opportunity for providing a much more intimate and personalized experience. Fewer guests mean you can get to know them by name, provide upgrades and other premium amenities, and showcase the service of your hotel in new ways. This focus on guest experience can turn into positive reviews and chatter throughout the web, which has a great impact on your hotel’s reputation, website traffic, and conversion rates.

PHASE 2: Initiate your hotel’s marketing with loyal and previous guests

When you are ready to begin your hotel’s marketing efforts again, we recommend starting small, especially if your hotel is located in a very restrictive area. Your audience should be focused primarily on loyal guests like pass holders and loyalty program members first and then broadening to previous guests or families that return year after year. One of the best ways to engage with this audience is through email marketing because you already have these guests’ contact information and you can draw them in with a more personalized approach.

PHASE 3: Engage with your hotel’s local audiences  

Once you’ve taken care of the loyal users, it’s time to move on to your hotel’s local drive market audiences. Whether this is within city limits or up to a day’s drive away, your local market will be the first to return to your property through serious marketing efforts. This is when you really want to make sure your Facebook, display and paid search efforts are ramping up to draw that awareness and highlight the benefits of a staycation or long weekend out of the house.

PHASE 4: Draw in regional guests for your hotel

As we start seeing the United States and other parts of the world opening up more safely we’ll also start seeing people traveling further distances. This goes beyond day trips and weekends and dips more into longer stays. These guests will be driving to your hotel from places that are over six hours away or even taking short flights in. 

Some properties are already seeing an influx of regional guests, especially those located in larger metro areas, while some are barely getting local visitors. It’s important to pay attention to your state or city’s reopening guidelines and phases to determine which audiences are worth targeting at any given time.

PHASE 5: Return to normal by reaching your hotel’s destination audiences

Eventually, things will go back to normal and travel will continue as it had before COVID-19 hit. This fifth and final phase includes all guests and normal operations, meaning you can return to targeting your new top-of-funnel audiences and guests that live out of your property’s region. 

While this phased approach is simply a guided recommendation, it’s still important for any property or business to evaluate their current standings and plan out their future marketing efforts. Eventually, this will be all over and we will return again to a saturated marketing landscape, but until then you can lean on GCommerce to create a strategy for your hotel’s marketing efforts during COVID-19.

Our hotel digital marketing experts are standing by to help you craft a custom digital marketing relaunch strategy for your hotel. Contact us today.

5 Things I Learned About the Future of Search | Google Marketing Live 2019

Every year Google Marketing Live is a showcase for the newest features, technology and direction of Google’s advertising platform. Marketers from across the globe listen in as the future direction of (digital) marketing unfolds over the 2 days of sessions. Google not only announces the newest features coming to Google search, display and more...they hint at trends and areas in which they think you should start investing your time, technology and money for more successful marketing. Here’s a quick list of the top things I learned about the future of search from Google’s Marketing Live 2019.

  1. The Future of Search Marketing Is VisualPeople have shown their affinity towards image and video based platforms and formats from Youtube to Instagram, Facebook, Google Home Hub and more. Google understands this direction and understands that the future of search ads will also incorporate these media types.Gallery ads - Although in the past Google claimed they wouldn’t crowd the SERP with flashy banner ads for visuals, it looks like the engagement metrics for these types of ads are just too great to pass on. Available later this year, Gallery ads will offer a visual ad format that will be featured at the top of the search results page allowing up to 8 images with tag lines under each.Google Lens - Google search already includes this technology. You can simply click on the Google lens option in the search bar, snap a photo of an object and you will instantly get back search results with advertisements related to whatever you took a picture of.Image Search - What appears to be a page out of Pinterest’s book, Google is reimagining the image results page to incorporate shopping ads along with standard image results based on your search intent. Google has found yet another place to monetize the search results.
  2. Understanding Language Matters For the Future of SearchGoogle’s search algorithm already depends on Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning to advance itself. The shortcomings of AI have always been its ability to understand and pick up on the nuances of language. Google continues to advance its AI’s capabilities with language but understands growth in this area is where the future lies.Synonyms - Google search has evolved as the algorithm advances it’s understanding of language through synonyms. Google Ads is now matching up your exact match keywords with similar queries with a new match type called “Exact Match (close variance)” -keywords their machine thinks mean the same thing or have the same search intent. The future of search depends on the machine’s ability to understand these relationships in language and it’s definitely come a long way.Related queries - Depending on the purchase, the consumer journey can last through 100s of different touch points across dozens of websites, searches and more. Google understands these related query connections and that the next time you pick up your phone, the desire is to pick up where you left off in your search. Google wants to help you along this journey by allowing you to return to your previous search focus and provides the tools to do so. In the end, this means that Google will keep the user within the Google platform for a longer period of time, through more touch points and help them advance down the conversion funnel, allowing Google opportunities to monetize through each step of their journey.
  3. Google Wants To Own (and monetize) The Entire FunnelNumerous times during Google Marketing Live 2019, presentations referenced how long and complex the consumer journey is. It is apparent that Google aims to own and monetize this entire consumer journey. Hotels have seen this for a long time with the evolution of the knowledge panel and Google Hotel ads. Google wants you to discover, shop, plan, engage and now purchase directly on the Google platform. Here’s a few ways they are doing this:Discovery ads - This new ad campaign type provides brands with the ability to reach consumers when they are open to discovering new things, ideas and more. They are rich, relevant and creative, with a swipe-able image carousel that will be available in the Youtube feed, Google home discovery feed and gmail.Youtube Bumper Ads - Google’s ever growing video advertising offering will now include a tool to automatically generate 6 second video ads in Google Ads with no additional production cost. It uses machine learning along with editing capability to produce 3-4, 6 second videos you can begin using immediately for video advertising.Paid Search Ads Evolution - Search has long been a channel where consumers begin and end their purchasing journey. Google is not only expanding ad types within this channel, they are improving capabilities for users to purchase hotels and travel (along with retail) directly through the search engine. Google is also introducing more and more audience types that allow advertisers to better speak directly to different types of consumers at different points during their buyer journey.Google Trips - The most notable travel specific presentation at Google Marketing Live 2019 was focused around Google’s announcement that they were making Google Trips functionality available on desktop (it’s been available on mobile for some time). Google Trips is Google’s move to own the entire trip discovery, planning, researching and booking phases for hotels, transportation, restaurants and flights. Google is funneling consumers down this path, making the competition and the importance of a well optimized Google My Business and Google Hotel Ads strategy even more essential.
  4. Google Wants You to Focus On User Trust & Inclusive Marketing

In a move that I think is partially PR focused, Google stressed their focus and commitment to user trust, privacy and ability to control your own user data. What is important to take out of this is that Google and other search engines will continue to give more power and ability to users to control what data they share and how their data is used to personalize the advertisements they are presented. But, let’s face it, consumer trust goes hand in hand with a brand’s success. If they can’t trust your brand they won’t buy your products. Google wants you to continue to use and purchase their products. They also want your business and brand to take the same stance.

Privacy/security settings - Google is expanding it’s privacy and data security settings with new tools to give users more control as well as giving them more transparency on how data is used to personalize ads. The future of digital advertising seems to be trending towards less specific data as users take more control of how their data is used by advertisers. Be aware of how this impacts your ability to track conversions.

Focus on Inclusive Marketing - The world is a diverse place, and chances are, so is your brand’s audience. To be more successful in today’s world it’s important to portray your brand as inclusive of all genders, races etc. But, this MUST be at the core of your brand and not just a marketing gimmick. Develop ad creative that portrays inclusion messaging and that speaks directly to more specific and targeted audiences. http://insights.newscred.com/inclusive-marketing/

  • Embrace Machine Learning

Google’s message to advertisers as more and more data is taken away by privacy laws and settings is that it’s replacing this data lost to privacy laws/security settings with more machine learning options. Data is going to continue to be taken away from marketers as consumers take greater control over their privacy and security settings. Google is telling marketers to counteract this with the help of machine learning.

Insights - Advanced features like smart bidding, uncovering learning the machines are generating and understanding your most valuable customer audiences can all be accomplished with machine learning. Embrace these insights to advance your campaign performance optimization.

Campaign management - Machine learning takes away mundane tasks like bid management and automates them so you can focus on the human element and ways to plan by customer instead of by channel.

Creative testing - Machine learning gives us the ability to automate and expand creative testing, giving us more ways to test and tell the brand story with the assets we already have. Responsive Search Ads, Responsive Display Ads and Youtube Bumper ads are just a few examples of this.

Measurement - Embrace machine learning to give you better ways to measure campaign impact and performance while protecting user privacy.

It’s really hard to fit in 2 days of learning and discoveries into a brief blog post but these are just a handful of the ideas, trends and technology Google announced for the future of it’s Google Marketing Platform. Embrace what the future brings, keep testing, keep tracking and keep strategizing.

Questions for what the future holds for your hotel digital marketing strategies? Reach out to GCommerce today!

3 Steps for Successful 2019 On-Page SEO For Hotel Websites

On-Page SEO for hotel websites horizontal

Over the years the mission statement for successful on-page SEO for hotel websites remains the same:

Make sure to follow best practices to position your website for the greatest chance of visibility in the SERP. Provide a superior user experience that is reflected through highly relevant content, well structured navigation with easy path to book.

Search engine optimization continues to evolve. Every year the nuances of the game changes slightly with new technical developments, new announcements or hints from Google and changing competition. Only brands and websites that continue to evaluate themselves against this mission statement and evolve to meet its demands will succeed. Don’t let your competitors push past you in the SERP to capture a larger share of the market. Make sure your hotel’s website is positioned for success with these straight forward, yet complex steps for on page search engine optimization.

Step 1:  Ensure Search Engines Can Access & Index Your Hotel’s Website

  1. Check your meta tags and robots.txt file to ensure you’re not blocking the search engine’s ability to crawl important content on your site. If the search engines can’t crawl and index your page content chances are you’re not going to be as visible in the SERP as you could be.
  2. Make Sure Your Site is Secure  - Google announced HTTPS as a ranking signal all the way back in 2014 (per this Google webmaster blog post). Then in 2018 Google started labeling sites as “Not Secure” in search results to warn (and scare away) potential visitors. If you haven’t transitioned your site to HTTPS, do it now.
  3. Submit XML Sitemaps with Valid URLs to Search Engines - Log into your Search Console & Bing Webmaster Tools accounts and submit XML sitemaps that contain valid URLs. This provides an easy, accurate outline of pages and content that are important to the search engines directly. This helps to make sure your important pages are found, crawled and indexed.
  4. Structured Data/Schema Markup - It’s not new (it was actually first launched by Bing, Google & Yahoo in 2011), but it’s something Google has been hinting at and talking about more as it relates to their ability to understand the content on your webpage. That means that pages that use structured data markup are able to provide a more easy to digest way for the search engines to understand their page content and match them up with relevant searches. Hint, Hint - that’s a big piece of how Google and other search engines rank your page. You can learn more here on our blog post about “What is Structured Data? A Guide for Hotels”.

Step 2: Create A Hotel Website With Content and Media That Deliver a Valuable and Relevant Experience for Users and Search Engines

Take a look at the SERP. How does your hotel’s website page compare to the top results? Does it provide a superior experience? Is it well optimized for your priority keywords?

  1. Experiential Images & Video
    • Great imagery & visual content is important for travel sites. This seems like a no-brainer, but still important to call out. Number of images ranked 3rd in SearchMetric’s 2017 Ranking Factors for Travel, behind just word count and overall content relevance. It’s also important for conversion. Make sure your hotel’s website allows the visitor to truly experience what it will be like on property before they even arrive.
    • Make Sure Your Files Are Compressed - Page Speed is important - large media files take a long time to load. Ensure your beautiful imagery isn’t causing your site to load slowing. A slow loading site means the visitor may bounce before you even get a chance to show them your beautiful hotel images.
    • Optimized Alt Text - Not new, but still important. Make sure all images on your site have Alt Text that is descriptive of the image content AND contain keyword focus. 
  2. Well Optimized Key SEO Elements 
    • I like to call these the foundational elements of on-page SEO. Make sure your page titles, meta descriptions, H1s, H2s etc are optimized for your priority keywords.
  3. Richly Descriptive On-Page Copy - One foundational piece of SEO that has been important for years is on-page copy. This is one area where many hotel website miss the mark. Many times during development phases of a new website, content is overlooked or not given much thought. Many hotels simply scrape content from their previous website or just throw a few sentences on a page that don’t offer much value to visitors or search engines.
    • Substantial Text & Word Count Is Still Important - Most of the time a hotel’s website copy lacks substantial text and word count. According to SearchMetrics 2017 SEO Ranking Factors for Travel, word count is actually at the top of the list for importance/correlation to higher rankings. SearchMetric’s study found the #1 ranked page for hotel san francisco had a word count of 2,074. While there are many other factors that play into this rank, it shows the continued importance of on-page copy. Oh and don’t forget to incorporate keyword & semantic keyword usage throughout your copy.
  4. Optimize for Voice Search - For the most part, hotel marketers should worry about an optimization strategy that encompasses all devices. While voice search shares ranking signals with other device types, there are a few ways to ensure your site is well optimized for potentially voice dictated searches. Below are a couple ways to ensure you’re optimized for voice search. You can learn more here on our last blog post about voice search for hotel websites.
    • FAQ pages - When people search with their voices, they tend to dictate in the form of a question. One essential way to optimize your site for searches that could be voice related is to set up an FAQ page. This FAQ page could include questions and answers about your hotel but it can also include questions about the local area - opening you up for exposure at the top of the marketing funnel, during consumers’ research phase.
    • Structured Data/Markup - similar to other device types, optimization of page content with structure data markup is very helpful for exposure in the SERP.

Step 3: Optimize Your Hotel Website for User Experience Across Devices

  • [Page Speed] - Consider page speed the new “mobile” in terms of SEO focus. For years Google pushed marketers to be ready for mobile, then it transitioned to a mobile first index. This mobile first index includes page speed as a ranking signal as we reported in our last blost post about page speed for hotel websites. If you’re not making this a priority you’re website is going to fall behind. Fact is, if you’re not trying to improve your website speed you’re already losing out on conversions and revenue.
  • [Device/Mobile Responsive] - Gone are the days of mobile specific websites. Google and other search engines recommend responsive design for smartphone-optimized websites. You want to optimize performance for the user’s journey across all devices, whether they are using a phone, tablet or desktop device.
  • Clear & easy path to find important information and to book [Clear Path To Book] - well structured website navigation and a clear path to book for users is essential if you want to optimize for conversions. If visitors can’t find the information they are looking for they are going to leave your site and look elsewhere, like competitors sites and OTAs. Make their experience easy with well thought out linking, expansive and quality content and clear calls to action.

This roadmap for successful on-page SEO in 2019 is only a piece of the larger SEO puzzle. To be successful in the search engines your hotel has to establish a strong brand reputation that search engines can pick up on through a variety of ranking signals. These include other domains linking to your site (think local or national partners, events, community sites), social mentions and signals, and growing brand recognition through advertising on a variety of channels (social, paid search, TV and offline channels). To be successful in search engine results your job with SEO is never done. You must continue to update your site, expand your reach and grow your business’s reputation as a unique, valuable brand.

Was Your Hotel’s Website Impacted By Google’s April 2019 Indexing Bug?

What Was The Google Indexing Bug?

Announced by Search Engine Land, on April 4th, 2019, “Google dropped pages inadvertently pages from its search index”.  This means website pages that were previously displaying in Google’s search results were completely removed through no fault of the website’s. On April 7th Google confirmed they were aware of the issue and were actively working to resolve them.

As of April 10th Google confirmed that the indexing issue has now been fully resolved and pages that were affected had been returned to the index and were once again displaying in the search results.  

Why Does It Matter To My Hotel?

For most hotel websites, organic search engine traffic accounts for the majority of sessions and revenue produced through a hotel’s website. If your hotel’s website pages are completely removed from Google’s search results this can mean a loss in website traffic and revenue from your top online channel.

Was My Hotel’s Website Impacted?

According to Moz’s Dr. Pete Meyers, 4% of the URLs tracked by Moz’s platform were impacted from Google’s indexing bug. Google has not commented on what caused the error or exactly how many pages were impacted. Search Engine Land’s article further clarifies:

Not every site was impacted by this de-indexing bug. So the 4% figure does not mean your site saw 4% of its pages drop out of the Google index. It can mean you saw zero pages drop out of the Google Index or it can mean you saw 50% of your pages drop out of the Google index. Each site is unique and each site can be impacted differently by this bug”.

GCommerce analyzed our clients’ website data and found that 53% of clients experienced a decline or drop in keyword ranking data during the indexing bug but only 19% of clients experienced an impact on organic sessions. The impact in organic sessions varied by client but in general were minimal declines.

What Can I Do If My Hotel’s Website Was Impacted?

At this point there’s not much that can be done through Google directly. Google has announced that they have resolved the issue and the index is accurate. Work with your hotel’s digital marketing agency to understand the impact and devise strategies to make up for lost traffic or exposure through other channels such as social, email or display campaigns to meet your revenue goals.

Please reach out to us if you have questions about Google’s April 2019 indexing bug and if it impacted your hotel’s website.

Why You Should Make Video Advertising a Priority in 2019

Video advertising is no longer an up and coming trend in the marketing world: it’s here and it’s already making a massive impact on consumer behavior.

What is video advertising?

Video advertising at a basic level is comprised of online display ads that use video instead of or alongside static images. However, in recent time video advertising has become more synonymous with video ads that play before, during, or after a video stream, such as on YouTube or Facebook.

Why is this important?

Video advertising has become the digital marketing trend in recent years, and it’s only expected to gain in popularity in 2019. According to a recent report by Wyzowl on video usage, 87% of businesses are now using video as a marketing tool, which is up from 81% in 2018 and 63% in 2017. Based on statistics alone, if you’re not using video in some form of marketing yet, you’re already behind.

So why is video advertising important, and more importantly, why should you be making this your priority for 2019? First and foremost, video is engaging. It draws in the attention of your audiences, sparks an emotion, and creates connection. Nowadays our apps and online experiences are clogged with static images advertising anything and everything causing the user to scroll monotonously past your ad without taking a second look. Seriously, think back to the last time you were scrolling through Instagram and Facebook. How many ads did you come across, and better yet, how many did you pause on? Could you recall the ads you saw? My guess is not very many if at all.

Enter video advertising, a disruption to our marketplace and re-engaging the user with entertaining content that is versatile and easy to digest. In fact, 96% of people say they’ve watched an informational video to learn more about a product or service, with 68% of people saying that it’s their preferred method of product and service learning. On top of that, 80% of users are able to recall a video ad they’ve viewed online in the past month.

Videos help explain products to consumers, and in a world full of choice, our consumers no longer need a sales pitch; that’s what a quick Google search is for. Instead our target audiences need to perceive value; why your hotel will provide a better experience than your competitor. And the easiest way to do this is through a sleek and compelling video.

How can your hotel start video advertising?

Earlier I said if you haven’t started using video you are already behind, however, it’s not too late to start! 74% of marketers not currently using video said they expect to start this year, and why not be part of that number? Video advertising doesn’t need to be complicated or take a lot of time.

There are many ways for your hotel to get started with video advertising. Whether you’re using video to tell your brand’s story, share a promotion, or showcase your beautiful property, there is a perfect way to utilize that. With Facebook and Instagram’s new live stream capabilities, you can easily start engaging with your social media followers by sharing the latest news at your property or even a weekend promotion. Uploading videos to YouTube is another way to capture an audience and will also give you the opportunity to create longer and more informational videos.

Sunset Marquis YouTube Video Ad

When you’re ready to start really advertising with video, the GCommerce team can help. Using video instead of static images in Facebook advertising will help catapult your ad reach and increase your impressions and clicks, thus leading to an increase in ROI. In fact, 96% say a video can help them make a purchasing decision. We can also serve your video ads programmatically, which is a type of advertising you probably see every day; think those video advertisements that play before or after any video content you are watching online. If your brand has a strong YouTube presence, you might consider running TrueView video ads, which targets people who have already interacted with your YouTube videos or are subscribed to your channel.

If you’re wondering how long your videos should be, here are some general guidelines:

  • Instagram: 30 seconds
  • Twitter: 45 seconds
  • Facebook: 1 minute
  • YouTube: 2 minutes

What we’ve learned so far at GCommerce.

At GCommerce we’ve been testing video ads with our clients in the forms of Facebook paid advertising, programmatic video advertising, and TrueView YouTube advertising, and we’ve learned some pretty compelling things.

First, when using video advertising on Facebook vs. a regular static ad, impressions tend to jump and overall site traffic increases. For example, let’s look at one of our clients, Sunset Marquis, who started running video ads with us on Facebook and programmatic display in mid-December. Using Google Analytics, we were able to see some impressive statistics. 70% of the Facebook sessions came from those video ads, as well as 90% of new users. To put that in perspective, that’s 3,946 new users to the website in just a few months! This not only increases site traffic, but also boosts our retargeting lists, which means we can then serve ads to those users, thus increasing their chance of booking at your hotel.

Second, we’ve seen click through rates soar! In the month of March alone, click through rate for Sunset Marquis video on Facebook was 133% higher than its regular, static prospecting campaign. For reference, the video campaign had a CTR of 3.03% vs 0.60%. On programmatic display, we see the same thing. Over the span of a few months our HTML 5 campaigns generated a CTR ranging from 0.079% - 0.136%, compared to the video ads that have received CTRs with a range of 0.25% - 0.32%, which is incredible!

So, what does this all mean for you and your hotel? Simply put, if you want to create more engagement and emotional attachment with your users, increase traffic to your site, and raise your click through rate, then you need to start video advertising. Video advertising allows your hotel to really showcase its values and brand to the consumer in a new and exciting way. Don’t get left behind and start utilizing video ads today!

Improve Ad Quality Score And Save Time & Money Through Google Ads Scripts

Google Ads Scripts may sound like a foreign language to some, scare others, and cause others to feel uncomfortable but I’m here to tell you that there is nothing to fear! Google Ad scripts are useful tools that can be used for every industry from hotel digital marketing to ma and pop shops doing their own PPC. These scripts automate tedious processes and tasks that sometimes take an unreasonable amount of time. This automation allows search specialists to focus on what’s most important and ultimately saves time and money for our clients.

What are Google Ads Scripts?

Google Ads Scripts are JavaScript based codes that anyone can implement in order to automate certain functions within Google Ads. These functions can include:

  • Sending keyword performance reports on a regular basis to a given email
  • Pausing underperforming ads based on set qualifiers. This report can then be automated to send to any given email containing the ads that were paused
  • Finding errors that could cause your ads to underperform, become disapproved, lead to a 404, and more. You can then set it to notify you if it happens to find something wrong
  • There are other scripts that can perform a multitude of tasks

These scripts help search specialists to work faster and more efficiently as well as improve their quality of work because they can always have eyes (a script) on things that they can’t always check due to time constraints.

Google Ads

Scripts increase efficiency, but how?

  • Automated reports: normally, a search specialist must go into Google Ads in order to pull reports that help them to identify how a given property is doing. In fact, they probably have to go through multiple tabs to get a good picture of what is happening with the account. This can take a lot of time. By setting up a script, they can receive automated reports which provide all of the information necessary, all in one spot. This saves time for search specialists because they don’t have to set up the reports, download them or make other modifications
  • Automated report delivery: search specialists can automatically send these reports to clients thus saving them time because they don’t have to manually send the reports
  • Ease of comparison: order is kept consistent since all of the metrics are the same on each report. This allows you to compare past data with ease. It also makes it easy to look at because they are standardized reports which you will get used to over time
  • Automated tasks and processes: as mentioned before, scripts can be used to automate a multitude of processes and tasks. These could include anything from error scanning your ads to pausing underperforming ads. This increases efficiency because the search specialist doesn’t have to make those changes manually but still gets notified of any changes that take place just in case they need to review them

Why should you be using scripts?

By using scripts, search specialists are able to spend less time setting up reports, checking for broken ads, pausing underperforming ads and more meaning that they are able to work more on what is most important. This ultimately saves you money and increases the quality of your ads thus helping you to drive more reservations and more revenue. Our team of search specialists are constantly looking for new scripts to increase productivity, save time and ensure budget is being spent efficiently.

Looking for more information on scripts? Here are some of our favorite resources:

Reach out to our team for more information!

Google's New Hotel Booking Search Features & What it Means for Your Hotel

Google has been gradually taking away website traffic for many industries over the years by moving more information and functionality directly within the search engine, allowing searchers to find what they need without ever leaving Google.com. This shift for the travel industry has previously been felt with the introduction of Google My Business, Google Flight and Google Hotel Search as well as featured snippets and answer boxes within the search results. Last week Google introduced even more changes to its travel related search for hotels and flights that follows this trend and further monetizes travel bookings for Google.

New Features for Google’s Hotel Search with Travel Insights Tool

1. Allow Google to Help Pick Your Next Travel Destination

Google will now curate the best flight deals based on your airport of origin by offering a filter by price and highlighting great value options.

2. New Hotel Deals Filter

Google now offers expanded filters to let you narrow down your hotel search based on a new “deals” specific filter that “uses machine learning to highlight hotels where one or more of our partners offer rates that are significantly lower than the usual price for that hotel or similar hotels nearby.” - Google’s Blog Post.

Click through on one of these deals and you’re taken to the previously updated Google hotels overview page that features hotel overview information, photos, reviews, rates and availability from hotel ads partners and things to do within the destination and near the hotel.

3. View Hotel Highlights

Consumers can also filter and view by hotel highlights and amenities such as if it has a pool, is family friendly or is a luxury hotel - all curated with machine learning and aggregated from multiple sources that Google does not specifically state.

This information can also be found on the hotel’s overview page:

4. Searches for Hotels Near Landmarks in Google Maps

Google is instructing consumers to use Google Maps for helpful information about what hotels are around specific landmarks or attractions by providing hotels near the landmark along with rates, walking and driving distances.

How Can Your Hotel Optimize For Exposure & Conversions With Google’s Updated Hotel Search?

  • Make Sure Your Hotel’s Google My Business and local listings are accurate and optimized
  • Participate in Google Hotel Ads to ensure your hotel website is competing with OTAs in this highly visible space
  • Encourage guests to write reviews and make sure you are responding to them - on all important channels and especially on Google. If your hotel isn’t getting positive reviews - make sure to address the issues whether it’s customer service or product related.
  • Make sure you have a competitive rate strategy in place and your lowest rates are only found on your website.
  • Optimize your website with location focused keywords and optimize for demand driving location attractions and/or events
  • Partner with local events, organizations, conventions and more to gain exposure and potentially links from local businesses

Need help getting started or auditing how you measure up with all of these items? Reach out to our hotel marketing team and we'll set you up for success.

Increase Revenue Contribution from Google Ads with Qualified Audiences for Remarketing

Many people around the Boston area have spent the last few months basking in the glory of a World Series Championship that the Red Sox brought home after a hard fought 4-1 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Here at GCommerce, we’ve been evaluating the results of some experimental paid search campaigns that we ran along with The Lenox Hotel to increase the awareness that the hotel is within walking distance of Fenway Park. Not only is this an incredible boutique hotel in the Back Bay of Boston, it’s also the best hotel to stay at if you’re in town for a Red Sox Game.

It was our job at GCommerce job to come up with a strategy that would most efficiently target their intended audience. The Lenox Hotel had pages on their site dedicated to content around Red Sox Game’s and the close proximity to Fenway Park. We decided to use Remarketing Lists for Search Ads in order to best reach our target audience.

For those not familiar with Remarketing, do you ever look at a product or service online, and then it seems like ads for that product or service follow you around forever? That is Remarketing.

The basic idea is that someone will come to your website, you drop a pixel on their browser that then feeds that individual ads about the page that they looked at. While this is a great tool for marketers to capture users, it generally misses out on 2 main topics

  1. Just because someone came to your site, how do we know what type of content they are looking for?
  2. Just because they visited a certain page, how do we know they didn’t “accidentally” click to get to your page or site?

Both of these things kind of go together. Have you ever accidentally clicked on an ad or link? Just because someone ends up on a page of our site, does not mean they intended to be there.

With Google Tag Manager, we can put qualifications around our audiences to help eliminate those that came to our site without the intent of reading content. The way we do this is with 3 different steps or qualifications for a user to enter our “audience list” that we then serve ads to:

  1. A user must first visit on one of the Red Sox or Fenway Park pages in order to be qualified for this audience list.
  2. Next, the user must scroll at least 25% of the way down the page. If you look at most pages on the Lenox Hotel’s website, they have a very efficient head navigation and absolutely beautiful imagery. With both of those elements in place, we can gather a better idea about intent if we can measure someone’s scroll depth while also eliminating those that “accidentally” ended up on the page.
scroll depth
  1. Next, the user also had to look at booking dates between June and Sep 30th (we later extended the date range as the Red Sox made their way through the playoffs).
Audience screenshot
  1. Finally, if a user was qualified in all of these areas, they were also eliminated from the list if they ever hit the “confirmation” page to signal a booking was completed.

Last year, we ran a very similar campaign effort, however, our Remarketing Audience List only consisted of people coming to the Lenox Hotel’s website, and it did not include these further qualifications. Luckily, this gives us a really good baseline to compare it to.

So how did this these qualified audience paid search campaigns perform in comparison to last year’s remarketing campaigns?**

Our remarketing lists for paid search ads in 2018 brought in 178% more Transactions as measured through the attribution on Search Ads 360 (12.5 vs 4.5):

transaction screenshot

This advanced remarketing list for search campaign was a great test and discovery for us here at GCommerce. We plan to take use this data for future success in remarketing campaigns for The Lenox Hotel and our other Paid Search clients.

Contact us today to discuss how Remarketing Lists for Search Ads can help your hotel!

**Full disclosure, the Red Sox were eliminated from the 2017 AL Division Series against Houston and their final home game was October 9, 2017. In the 2018 season, their final game at Fenway was October 24th, so there were an extra 15 days that the campaign ran in 2018 vs 2017.