Bookassist Research Shows a Promising Start to Google’s Free Hotel Booking Links
On March 09, Google began their roll out of free Hotel Booking Links into Hotel Ads results.
This new feature offers hoteliers free visibility for their official hotel website via a free Hotel Booking Link (technically an organic link) featuring the best available rate on their direct channel. Previously hotels could only participate in this area through an active Google Hotel Ads advertising campaign.
Commenting on the launch Jacopo Rita, Head of Metasearch at Bookassist said: “This is great news for hoteliers, and it’s great to see Google’s commitment to the industry too. Hotels have been hit hard and are struggling with cash flow and despite the importance of being visible most hotels can’t afford it now. This new Google initiative is really welcomed and will give hotels the opportunity to get much needed visibility for free”.
Since Google launched Free Hotel Bookings Links, Bookassist has put live over 100 hotels. The Metasearch team released some early performance results.
The Bookassist Metasearch team analysed the performance of 50 client hotels using Google’s new feature. They chose hotels that were already live on Google Hotel Ads to compare performance between the paid Hotel Ads link and the free Hotel Booking Link.
Indicators are positive both in terms of traffic and conversion. The analysis reveals that free Hotel Booking Links accounts for circa 15% of overall Google Hotel Ads click throughs and about 10% of conversion.
Official Site and Best Price wins
Although Google is not sharing information on how to improve your ranking on the free listings, Bookassist identified two important factors:
The official brand website always ranks first.
Hotels that offer the best price on their official website get the highest click through rates.
Hotels are advised not to ignore their paid listing
Hotels already active on Metasearch are advised not to ignore or underestimate the importance of their paid listing:
The paid listing performs much better, driving over 85% of traffic and 90% of conversion. Google’s free listing will help to drive more traffic but it will not replace the bookings you get from your paid listings.
Your paid listing gives you total control over the targeting of your ad, resulting in much high conversion from highly targeted traffic.
Free Booking Links do not show up within the hotel knowledge panel which is the most engaged area of Google Hotel ads. Free listings will only show up within Google Travel immersive pages where users have to click view more rates, and so the potential for traffic is much reduced.