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3 Google tools you need now to increase direct hotel bookings

Google Travel, Google Hotel Ads and Business profile: how to use them to disintermediate from OTAs

Google tools to increase direct hotel bookings | Smartpricing

In the hotel industry, disintermediation from online travel agencies (OTAs) means reducing reliance on OTAs and increasing direct bookings.

It’s a key strategy for increasing revenue, but for accommodations that can’t count on large marketing budgets, challenging giants such as or Expedia may seem impossible. 

However, there’s a powerful and inexpensive ally for attracting more traffic to your website: Google

Although we often tend to underestimate them, search engines still play a key role as a source of inspiration for travelers. In its latest report "The State of Tourism and Hospitality," McKinsey conducted an international survey which revealed that:

  • 49% of respondents rely on recommendations from friends and family
  • 40% use search engines
  • 37% use online booking platforms

According to McKinsey, the reason for this is that today's travelers want total control over their itineraries and enjoy the planning process. The approach with which they experience this phase is that of a "treasure hunt": finding the best vacation while getting the best value for money.

That's why it’s essential to maintain a strong presence on search engines such as Google, in order to provide travelers with travel insights and deals. In this article, we’ll take a look at the tools that Google offers hoteliers, and see how they can be used to achieve the important goal of disintermediation.

Google Travel: what is it and what sections are included

Google Travel is Google's platform for helping travelers plan and organize their trips. This service not only lists accommodation options but also provides detailed information on destinations and flights, enabling travelers to see the big picture and plan the smallest details.

Google Travel consists of 5 sections:

Travel: The main section where users can search for travel-related information, from destinations to local activities.

Explore: Allows users to imagine and plan their ideal trip. By entering the starting point and destination, Google Travel suggests all available options, including flights and local attractions.

Flights: A meta-engine displaying all available flights between a specific departure city and a chosen destination, on a given date.

Hotels: Similar to flights, this section allows travelers to compare and discover the features and prices of hotels in their chosen destination, to help them find the ideal accommodation.

Vacation Rentals: Works like the Hotels section, but for apartments and vacation homes.

3 key benefits of Google Travel for accommodations

As the McKinsey research has shown, having a presence on search engines is essential. In this sense, Google Travel is the platform of choice, as this is often where the planning process begins. By being present on this channel, you’ll have the opportunity to be part of the first selection of destinations and accommodations where travelers are likely to decide to stay.

Here are the 3 most relevant advantages of Google Travel for accommodations:

1. Visibility and accessibility

A presence on Google Travel greatly increases a hotel's online visibility, making it easier for potential customers to find it while they’re searching for their destination and accommodation. Google Travel is a global tool, used by travelers all over the world, which significantly increases the likelihood that users will discover and book your establishment.

2. Reviews and reputation management

Google Travel allows users to view hotel reviews and ratings directly from Google search engines. By having a presence on this platform, hotels can actively manage their online reputation. Hoteliers can respond to guest reviews, demonstrating a real commitment to guest satisfaction, which can improve the perception of the service offered.

3. Facilitation of reservations 

Google Travel offers the possibility to book hotels directly on the platform. This makes the booking process more straightforward for potential customers. Being listed on Google Travel enables hotels to leverage this feature to increase conversions from searches to actual bookings, thereby improving occupancy rates.

How to use Google Travel to analyze competitor accommodations

In addition to travelers, Google Travel is also an important resource for hoteliers seeking information about their competitors.

"Overview" tab

If you access a competitor's Google Travel page and select the "Overview" tab, you’ll see a colored bar representing the extent of their price range. In the image below, for example, we see that around 20% of this property’s prices are below €208 and another 20% are above €228.

The graph below the bar shows the price trend for the selected date. These two pieces of information are useful for gaining an overview of the competitor hotel's pricing strategy.

Google Travel pricing graph | Smartpricing


Another useful tool for assessing competitors’ strategies is the calendar, which can be viewed by clicking on the check-in or check-out date in the "Prices" tab. Here, day-by-day rates are shown, and it is possible to gain a better understanding of how this property is faring in the market, and what prices it will be charging in the immediate future over the following months.

Google Travel calendar | Smartpricing

"Top things to know" section

In the "Overview" tab, it’s worth taking a look at the "Top things to know" section. Here you’ll find a brief summary of the hotel features (yours or your competitors') that travelers have found as most important. 

This will help you understand which elements you need to focus on to improve your service offering and communication style.

Google Travel "Top things to know" clickable section | Smartpricing
Google Travel "Top things to know" dropdown | Smartpricing

"People also viewed" section

The last useful section of the Overview tab is the "People also viewed" section. Here you can see the other accommodations that travelers have viewed just before or after yours. This allows you to create or refine your competitive set.

Google Travel "People also viewed" section | Smartpricing

Google Hotel Ads: what it is and how it works

Google Hotel Ads is Google's advertising platform that enables hotels to sponsor their rates and availability, making them directly visible in Google search results. 

This advertising tool allows hoteliers to reach a large audience of potential customers when they search for accommodations on Google Search, Google Maps and Google Travel.

Google Hotel Ads can include:

  • Detailed hotel information: Descriptions of the property, services offered, and location.
  • Rates and availability: Up-to-date rates and real-time room availability.
  • Guest reviews: Ratings and feedback left by guests who have already stayed at the property.

This is how Google Hotel Ads appear on the Google screen when you search for a hotel name.

Google Hotel ads: price comparison | Smartpricing

How to use Google Hotel Ads for your accommodation

To take advantage of Google Hotel Ads, follow the steps below:

1. Create your "Google Business Profile"

The business profile is a free tool that allows you to control how your establishment appears in Google Search and on Google Maps. We’ll come back to this in detail in the next chapter of this article.

2. Collaborate with a technology partner

To display rates and availability in real time, work with a partner who offers a booking engine integrated with Google Hotel Ads. This way, your information will be sent directly to Google, which can then show it in users’ searches.

3. Set up campaigns in Google Hotel Ads

You can now log in to your Google Ads account and create a new specific campaign using the "Hotel Campaigns" option.  Here you can set your budget, select your keywords and define your target audience.

Is Google Hotel Ads really worth it compared to OTAs?

Google Hotel Ads is a powerful tool available to the hotelier to optimize distribution costs, in particular Customer Acquisition Costs (CAC). Competent use of Google Hotel Ads can certainly improve CAC, but it’s important to remember that the goal should always be diversified and cost-optimized distribution, not complete disintermediation.

Google Business Profile: what is it and what are the benefits for hotels

Google Business Profile is an indispensable tool for attracting potential new guests. Through your profile, you can provide quick, direct access to all the information that’s most important for them.

Benefits of the Google Business Profile for hotels

Improved online visibility: a well-optimized profile helps the hotel to appear in local search results and on Google Maps. 

Essential information at your fingertips: hotels can enter important details such as address, phone number, rates, check-in/check-out times, services offered, and hotel policies. Potential guests can quickly obtain all the information they need.

Statistics and analytics: Google Business Profile offers analytical tools that enable hotels to track user interaction with the profile. These include the number of views, actions taken (e.g. phone calls, website visits, etc.) and requests for directions.

How to create a Google Business Profile for your hotel

First, you need to go to and select or create your business.

Then you’ll have to choose the main category to which your accommodation belongs (hotel, B&B, resort) and enter all the information and data required (address, contacts, website, opening hours). Finally, you’ll need to enter a description of your accommodation and start uploading the first photos. 

If you want your profile to be really effective, don't forget to pay close attention to the following elements:

Image and video gallery: upload lots of high-quality photos and videos. Images of interiors and exteriors, common areas, rooms, restaurant, breakfast buffet, views from the rooms, spa, and conference rooms play a crucial role in the booking decision. Make sure they’re attractive, but always true to reality.

360° tours: you can also upload 360° tours of the hotel’s interior, showing potential guests the layout and size of spaces, different areas, and room types.

Offers/Updates/Events: constantly update information on promotions, special events, seasonal offers, and local activities. These updates keep guest interest high and can encourage bookings.

Reviews: the business profile allows you to collect and respond to guest reviews. Encourage guests to leave you feedback and be sure you always respond to questions received via the platform. This is key to enhancing your reputation and giving potential guests more information on which to guide their choice.

Sustainability procedures: update in detail all the sustainability procedures you implement, which play an increasingly important role in consumer choice.

Hotel category and strengths: correctly define the property's category (number of stars) and its strengths to attract exactly the travelers you’re targeting.

All Google tools for hotels: a summary

Google offers a number of powerful tools that enable hotels to increase the number of direct bookings and gain greater control over their business.  

With Google Travel, hoteliers can access a large audience of potential guests, increasing their property's online visibility and offering users the opportunity to book directly. 

In addition, Google Business Profile provides hotels with an effective way of managing their online reputation, responding to guest reviews and providing detailed information about their property. 

By strategically using Google Hotel Ads, hoteliers can optimize their distribution costs and improve profitability while offering guests an optimized booking experience.

As you’ve seen in this article, Google tools are great allies in your disintermediation strategy because they help you increase your online visibility and attract more potential customers to your accommodation website. 

However, to increase your competitiveness and maximize every booking you get, however, you need to pay even more attention to the prices you display on these channels. In this regard, Smartpricing's dynamic pricing and revenue management software offers crucial support.

With its high level of automation and real-time market analysis capabilities, Smartpricing applies the most suitable dynamic pricing strategy to your accommodation, reacting promptly to fluctuations in demand, and automatically publishing your prices to your booking channels.

Want to see how it works? Request a free personalized demonstration!