Gartner L2 researchers have found two different versions of Google Hotel Ads, presumably beta versions that Google is currently testing. There are numerous changes that could impact how travelers discover and book hotels on Google; therefore, hotel brands will need to adapt in order to optimize their presence.
New Filters for Luxury and Top-Rated Hotels
When a traveler conducts a simple Google search for hotels, the Google Hotel Ad (GHA) widget displays a map and three hotel listings, sitting below Google Text Ads and above organic results. The beta GHA widget features a banner of filters appears (with options such as Best Value, Top Rated, and Luxury based on your search keywords) that help travelers filter their hotel results. Clicking on the GHA widget drives directly to the GHA platform.
Larger Hotel Images Squeeze Out Map View
In the GHA platform, the map display with hotel listings sidebar has been replaced with hotel tiles, devoting more screen space to hotel results and less to the interactive map. The tiles feature larger hotel images which dominate the page. Hotel description space is short, moving review quotes and amenity logos a click away.
Ads Go Incognito
Previously, the top two results were always labeled with the Ad tag and featured only one booking option, sometimes by the hotel brand, but more often an ad placed by an online travel agency (like Expedia) or metasearch engine (like Kayak). The beta version doesn’t feature Ad tags on the property results page, only showing the Ad tag on booking options.
More Clicks, More Info
Clicking on a hotel used to reveal information on the listings page, but in the beta version it launches a new window. The beta hotel page structure is similar to the classic version with a few additional features. At the top, a quick navigation bar allows travelers to find hotel prices, reviews, description, and photos more easily than previous vertical scrolling.
Scoring Hotel Location
Another new feature is the “location summary” that provides a numerical score for the hotel’s location in a city, ranking the hotel proximity to main attractions, public transit and airports, based on Google Maps data. This feature also includes nearby activities, with travel estimates from the hotel and an interactive Google Map.
Is Google Pushing Bookings or Reviews?
The “check availability” booking option allows travelers to compare prices from the hotel brand and OTA/Metasearch sites, and this remains similar in the current version. The new window allows travelers to see more information above the fold and more prominently features options to select a room, with images and prices of the various room types offered by the brand or OTA/metasearch sites. One variant beta version alters the page structure, featuring hotel ratings above the booking options.
Why Google Hotel Ads Matter to Hotel Brands
As Google continues to gain dominance in discovery and booking process, it has become even more critical for hotel brands to optimize for second-order visibility and purchase sponsored listings on Google Hotel Ads.
Last year, Gartner L2 research found that luxury and upper-upscale hotels own a quarter of paid results for US destinations, but only 14% of results for international locations. This regional variation indicates that spend has not been distributed evenly across locations. Brands with extensive global footprints are missing an opportunity to promote their international presence.