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Google Hotel Ads: A Step-by-Step Guide (2024)

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Jordan Hollander in Revenue Management

Last updated December 08, 2023

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In today's fiercely competitive hospitality industry, the ability to control the mix of direct bookings and establish a strong presence on the world's largest search engine is crucial for hotels seeking to thrive in the digital landscape. With millions of users turning to search engines like Google to find accommodations, leveraging Google Hotel Ads has become an essential strategy for hotels worldwide. This step-by-step guide will navigate you through the process of harnessing the power of Google Hotel Ads to maximize direct bookings and establish a global presence.

Gone are the days when hotels relied solely on traditional booking methods or third-party online travel agencies (OTAs) to fill their rooms. While OTAs have undeniably played a significant role in expanding the reach of hotels, the growing importance of direct bookings cannot be underestimated. Hotels now recognize the value of taking control of their distribution channels, reducing dependency on OTAs, and building a stronger connection with their guests. This is where Google Hotel Ads enters the picture.

Google, with its massive user base and dominance in the search engine realm, offers hotels an unparalleled opportunity to tap into a vast pool of potential guests actively searching for accommodations. By leveraging Google Hotel Ads, hotels can showcase their properties prominently, allowing users to directly book their stays without intermediary platforms. This not only ensures a higher profit margin for hotels but also provides an enhanced guest experience and fosters stronger guest relationships.

 

The significance of being present on Google goes beyond mere visibility. With travelers increasingly turning to search engines as the starting point for their travel planning, hotels that position themselves effectively on Google Hotel Ads can capture the attention of their target audience at the right moment. By appearing alongside organic search results, hotels can leverage the power of intent-driven advertising, displaying their offerings to users who are actively seeking accommodations in their desired location.

Google Hotel Ads allow hotels to present comprehensive information to potential guests. From rates and availability to photos, reviews, and special offers, hotels can showcase their unique selling points and differentiate themselves from competitors, thereby enticing users to choose them for their upcoming trips.

In this step-by-step guide, we will delve into the intricacies of Google Hotel Ads, equipping hoteliers with the knowledge and tools necessary to navigate this powerful advertising platform. We will explore the process of setting up a Google Ads account, optimizing ad campaigns, integrating with property management systems (PMS), tracking performance, and implementing best practices for successful campaigns.

Join us as we unlock the potential of Google Hotel Ads, empowering hotels to take control of their direct bookings mix, increase revenue, and establish a strong presence on the world's largest search engine. By following this guide, hoteliers can seize the opportunity to connect with travelers at the right moment and pave the way for a successful future in the dynamic and ever-evolving hospitality industry.

Search Engine Ads 101

Before we go into the specific of hotel ads on Google, we first need to understand how search engine advertising (PPC) works in the first place.  The basic auction model of search engines like Google or Bing is a system that determines the order in which ads appear on the search engine results page (SERP) when a user performs a search. This auction model follows a pay-per-click (PPC) advertising system, where advertisers bid on specific keywords relevant to their products or services.

Here's a breakdown of the basic auction model:

  1. User Initiation:

    • A user enters a search query into the search engine.
    • The search engine analyzes the query and determines the intent behind it.
  2. Advertiser Eligibility:

    • The search engine identifies advertisers who have bid on keywords related to the search query.
    • It considers factors such as bid amount, ad quality, and relevance to determine which advertisers are eligible to participate in the auction.
  3. Ad Rank Calculation:

    • The search engine calculates an Ad Rank for each eligible advertiser.
    • Ad Rank is determined by multiplying the advertiser's bid amount by their ad quality score.
    • Ad quality score is influenced by factors like ad relevance, expected click-through rate, landing page experience, and historical performance.
  4. Auction and Ad Placement:

    • The search engine holds an auction among the eligible advertisers.
    • The auction takes into account each advertiser's Ad Rank and bid amount.
    • The advertiser with the highest Ad Rank wins the top ad position, followed by the advertiser with the second-highest Ad Rank, and so on.
    • Advertisers only pay when their ad is clicked, hence the term "pay-per-click."
  5. Ad Display:

    • The winning ads are displayed on the SERP, typically above or alongside the organic search results.
    • The order of ad placements may vary based on factors such as the user's location, device, and personal search history.
  6. Cost and Budget:

    • The cost per click (CPC) for each advertiser is determined by the second-highest Ad Rank divided by their Ad Quality Score, plus a small amount known as the "ad rank threshold."
    • Advertisers are charged their maximum bid amount or the CPC, whichever is lower.
    • Advertisers set a daily or monthly budget to limit their ad spend.
  7. Ad Performance and Ad Rotation:

    • The search engine continuously evaluates the performance of ads, considering factors like click-through rate (CTR), conversion rate, and relevance.
    • Advertisers can create multiple ad variations, and the search engine may rotate them to determine the most effective ads.

It's important to note that the auction model is dynamic and occurs in real-time for each search query, ensuring that the most relevant and highest-quality ads are displayed to users. Advertisers have the opportunity to refine their bids, ad creatives, and targeting strategies to improve their ad position and performance.

The Big Choice: Metasearch Software, Digital Agency or Going it Alone

In the rapidly evolving world of digital advertising, hotels have multiple options when it comes to accessing Google Hotel Ads. Each approach has its own set of pros and cons. One option is to use metasearch management software, which streamlines campaign management and optimization. Another option is to work with a top-rated digital marketing agency, leveraging their expertise and experience. Lastly, hotels can choose to go directly into Google's platform, offering full control and direct communication with the search engine giant. In this article, we will explore the advantages and disadvantages of these three approaches, equipping hoteliers with the knowledge to make an informed decision on how to access Google Hotel Ads and maximize their advertising efforts.

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Option 1: Working with a Top-Rated Digital Marketing Agency

When it comes to running Google Hotel Ads, hotels have choices in how they access the platform and manage their campaigns. One option is to work with a top-rated digital marketing agency, which offers a range of advantages. These include the agency's expertise and experience in running successful advertising campaigns, their ability to develop customized strategies tailored to the hotel's goals, target market, and brand positioning, and their continuous optimization efforts to adapt to market trends and maximize campaign effectiveness. However, there are also some downsides to consider, such as the additional costs involved, the reliance on an external partner for ongoing support and communication, and the limited internal control over day-to-day campaign operations. In this article, we will delve into the pros and cons of working with a digital marketing agency and explore an alternative approach of going directly into Google's platform with no ad software or performance marketing partner. By understanding these options, hoteliers can make informed decisions about the best approach to leverage Google Hotel Ads for their marketing efforts.

Pros:

  • Expertise and Experience: A top-rated digital marketing agency brings in-depth knowledge and expertise in running successful advertising campaigns. They understand the intricacies of Google Hotel Ads and can optimize campaigns to drive maximum results.
  • Customized Strategies: Agencies can develop tailored strategies that align with the hotel's unique goals, target market, and brand positioning. They can provide insights on ad creatives, audience targeting, and budget allocation, ensuring a customized approach to maximize ROI.
  • Continuous Optimization: Agencies monitor and optimize campaigns regularly, leveraging data and performance metrics to make informed adjustments. They can quickly adapt to market trends and changes in guest behavior, ensuring the hotel's Google Hotel Ads remain effective over time.

Cons:

  • Costs: Working with a digital marketing agency involves additional costs in the form of agency fees or a percentage of ad spend. These fees vary based on the agency's reputation, expertise, and services provided.
  • Reliance on External Partner: Hotels need to rely on the agency's availability and responsiveness for ongoing campaign management and support. Any communication or coordination challenges can affect the agility and effectiveness of the campaigns.
  • Limited Internal Control: Hotels may have limited visibility and control over the day-to-day operations of their Google Hotel Ads. They need to trust the agency to make data-driven decisions aligned with their goals and brand identity.
  1. Going Directly into Google's Platform with No Ad Software or Performance Marketing Partner:

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Option 2: Leveraging Best in Class Metasearch Management Software

When it comes to managing Google Hotel Ads campaigns, hotels have the option of using metasearch management software, which offers several advantages. These include simplified campaign management through a centralized platform that automates bid management, budget allocation, and performance tracking. The software is specifically designed for metasearch advertising, often equipped with advanced optimization features that leverage data analysis and algorithms to maximize ROI. Additionally, using metasearch management software can save hotels valuable time and resources by automating repetitive tasks, allowing staff to focus on other critical aspects of hotel operations. However, there are also considerations to keep in mind. Hotels need to factor in the additional cost of investing in the software, whether it's a recurring subscription fee or a percentage of ad spend. They may also have limited control over certain aspects of their Google Hotel Ads campaigns, relying on the software's features and options, which may not align perfectly with their specific goals or strategies. Furthermore, hotels become dependent on the software provider for ongoing support and updates, which can impact campaign effectiveness if any issues or limitations arise. In this article, we will explore the pros and cons of using metasearch management software, enabling hotels to make informed decisions about leveraging this technology for their Google Hotel Ads campaigns.

Pros:

  • Simplified Management: Metasearch management software provides a centralized platform for hotels to manage their Google Hotel Ads campaigns efficiently. It streamlines the process by automating bid management, budget allocation, and performance tracking.
  • Expertise and Optimization: These software solutions are designed specifically for metasearch advertising, so they often come equipped with advanced optimization features. They leverage data analysis and algorithms to optimize bids, target the right audience, and maximize return on investment (ROI).
  • Time and Resource Savings: Using metasearch management software can save hotels valuable time and resources by automating repetitive tasks, allowing staff to focus on other critical aspects of hotel operations.

Cons:

  • Additional Cost: Hotels will need to invest in the metasearch management software, which comes with associated costs. Depending on the software provider, this can be a recurring subscription fee or a percentage of ad spend.
  • Limited Control: While metasearch management software simplifies campaign management, hotels may have limited control over certain aspects of their Google Hotel Ads. They must rely on the features and options provided by the software, which may not fully align with their specific goals or strategies.
  • Dependency on Software Provider: Hotels become reliant on the software provider for ongoing support and updates. Any issues or limitations with the software could impact the effectiveness of their campaigns.

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Option 3: Go Directly into Google's Ad Platform

For hotels seeking maximum control over their Google Hotel Ads campaigns, going directly into Google's platform offers a range of benefits. One of the primary advantages is the full control hotels gain over their campaigns. They can make real-time adjustments, access detailed performance data, and customize strategies to align with their specific goals and target audience. Additionally, opting for direct access to Google's platform can lead to cost efficiency, as it eliminates the need for third-party software or agency fees. Hotels have more control over budget allocation and can optimize spending based on their individual needs. Furthermore, by going directly into Google's platform, hotels have the advantage of direct communication with Google itself, enabling them to seek assistance, guidance, and insights directly from the search engine giant. However, there are challenges to consider. Managing Google Hotel Ads without the aid of ad software or a performance marketing partner requires a deeper understanding of the platform's features, optimization techniques, and industry best practices. This can result in a steeper learning curve, requiring hotels to invest time and effort into acquiring the necessary knowledge. Additionally, going directly into Google's platform can be time and resource-intensive, as hotels must handle all aspects of campaign management internally. In this article, we will explore the pros and cons of going directly into Google's platform for Google Hotel Ads, equipping hotels with the information they need to make informed decisions about their advertising strategies.

Pros:

  • Full Control: Going directly into Google's platform provides hotels with complete control over their Google Hotel Ads campaigns. They can make real-time adjustments, access detailed performance data, and customize their strategies as needed.
  • Cost Efficiency: By eliminating the need for a third-party software or agency, hotels can potentially save on associated costs. They have more control over their budget allocation and can optimize spending according to their specific needs.
  • Direct Communication with Google: Hotels have direct access to Google's support and resources. They can reach out to Google for assistance, guidance, and insights to enhance their campaigns.

Cons:

  • Steeper Learning Curve: Managing Google Hotel Ads without ad software or a performance marketing partner requires a deeper understanding of the platform's features, optimization techniques, and industry best practices. Hotels may need to invest time and effort into acquiring the necessary knowledge.
  • Time and Resource Intensive: Without external support

Recommendation: Let Someone Do It for You

Hotels today face a myriad of challenges in the digital advertising landscape, particularly when it comes to running effective metasearch campaigns on platforms like Google Hotel Ads. While some hoteliers may consider managing these campaigns themselves, there are compelling reasons why working with a metasearch management software partner is the best approach. By partnering with experts in the field, hotels can focus on their core operations while leaving the intricacies of advertising and performance optimization to the professionals.

First and foremost, metasearch management software partners bring in-depth knowledge and expertise in running successful advertising campaigns. They understand the mechanics of the platform, including bid management, budget allocation, audience targeting, and campaign optimization. By leveraging their experience, hoteliers can benefit from proven strategies and techniques that deliver optimal results. Rather than spending valuable time and resources on becoming Google Ads experts themselves, hoteliers can trust their partners to handle the technical aspects of advertising, allowing them to concentrate on providing exceptional guest experiences.

Metasearch management software partners stay up-to-date with the latest advancements and features introduced by platforms like Google. They proactively adapt to changes, ensuring campaigns are optimized for maximum performance. However, it is still important for hoteliers to gain a basic understanding of the platform and its mechanics. By getting certified and staying informed about new features, hoteliers can hold their partners accountable and actively participate in strategic discussions. This knowledge empowers them to make informed decisions about their advertising budgets, target markets, and campaign objectives.

It is essential to recognize that hoteliers should not be expected to be the best performance marketers. While understanding the basics and staying informed is important, their primary focus should be on delivering exceptional hospitality experiences. By working with a metasearch management software partner, hotels can rely on their expertise in driving results, analyzing performance metrics, and making data-driven optimizations.

The advantages of working with a metasearch management software partner extend beyond the technical aspects of campaign management. They also provide valuable insights and guidance on industry trends, competitor analysis, and audience behavior. These partners can identify opportunities for growth and recommend strategic adjustments to maximize return on investment.

Hotels should consider partnering with a metasearch management software provider to run their advertising campaigns. By doing so, they can benefit from the expertise and experience of professionals who understand the intricacies of platforms like Google Hotel Ads. This allows hoteliers to focus on their core operations and guest experiences, while still actively participating in strategic discussions and holding their partners accountable. Ultimately, collaborating with a metasearch management software partner empowers hotels to achieve optimal advertising results without requiring them to become performance marketing experts.

Setting Up Your First Campaign Step-by-Step

The Hotel campaigns feature in Google Ads allows advertisers to manage their Hotel Ads bids and budgets across multiple campaigns. By targeting different user countries and hotels, advertisers can choose different bid strategies for each campaign and provide users with detailed information about the hotels they are promoting.

To create a hotel campaign, follow these step-by-step instructions:

  1. In your Google Ads account, click on the Campaigns icon.
  2. From the dropdown, select Campaigns.
  3. Click the blue plus button, then click New campaign.
  4. Choose "Create a campaign without a goal's guidance" as the campaign objective and click Continue.
  5. Select "Hotel" as the campaign type and click Continue.
  6. Select the linked Hotel Center account. If you are new to hotel campaigns, you will need to integrate your hotel list and rates in Hotel Center or link to a Hotel Center account created by an integration partner.
  7. Set your advertising preferences, including the campaign name, bidding type, budget, networks (Google Search Network), devices, and locations.
  8. Click Save and continue.
  9. Create your first ad group by entering the ad group name and bid.
  10. Click Save.

After creating the ad group, you will be taken to the hotel groups page. The initial hotel group, "All hotels," targets all the hotels available for advertising from your linked Hotel Center account. You can create additional hotel groups using subdivisions to make bidding more specific.

Please note that these instructions are part of the new Google Ads user experience and may differ if you are using the previous version of Google Ads.

Remember to consult the Google Ads documentation for the most up-to-date information and any changes that may occur in the future.

Google Performance Max: On the Cutting Edge

Google Performance Max is an advertising option that can help hoteliers drive direct bookings by unlocking new customer segments and optimizing campaign performance. With Performance Max, hotels can customize their goals, maximize conversions or conversion value, and engage customers across Google's channels. The platform utilizes real-time consumer understanding and audience signals to identify and target relevant customer segments. It employs data-driven attribution and machine learning models to optimize ad performance, predict the best combinations of ads, audiences, and creatives, and provide valuable insights through asset reporting. Performance Max is the ideal choice when hotels have specific advertising and conversion goals, want to maximize campaign performance across all Google advertising channels, and seek additional reach and conversion value beyond keyword-based search campaigns. By leveraging Google Ads automation and machine learning, hoteliers can optimize their campaigns based on budget, business goals, and desired conversions. It complements existing Search campaigns while respecting keyword targeting. By utilizing Performance Max, hotels can enhance their advertising reach, improve campaign performance, and drive direct bookings.

Why You Need to Prioritize Google Hotel Ads

Hotels need to prioritize Google Hotel Ads as part of their marketing strategy due to several compelling reasons. Firstly, Google Hotel Ads offers hotels a prominent presence across various Google platforms, including Google Search, Google Maps, and Google Hotel Search. By appearing on these platforms, hotels can reach a vast audience of travelers actively searching for accommodations, increasing their visibility and potential for direct bookings.

Furthermore, Google Hotel Ads operates on a cost-per-click (CPC) model, allowing hotels to have more control over their advertising budget. Hoteliers can set their own bidding strategies and bid amounts, optimizing their campaigns to drive cost-effective conversions and maximize their return on investment (ROI).

Direct bookings are a key focus for hoteliers, and Google Hotel Ads provide an opportunity to drive these bookings. By leveraging features such as free booking links and integrated booking engine functionality, hotels can offer a seamless booking experience directly on their website, reducing reliance on online travel agencies (OTAs) and increasing their profitability.

Google Hotel Ads also enables hoteliers to showcase their hotel's availability, rates, and contact information in real-time. Travelers can easily access this information when they perform a hotel search, enhancing the chances of direct bookings. Additionally, by utilizing optimization techniques and analyzing conversion rates, hoteliers can continuously refine their Google Hotel Ads campaigns to achieve better results and attract more potential guests.

Integrating with a hotel's Google Ads account and using an integration partner or metasearch management software can further enhance the effectiveness of Google Hotel Ads. These tools provide advanced features, such as bid management, performance tracking, and optimization, helping hoteliers streamline their advertising efforts and improve campaign performance.

In today's digital marketing landscape, where mobile devices and apps play a significant role, being present on Google Hotel Ads is crucial. Travelers increasingly use mobile devices to search and book accommodations, and Google Hotel Ads ensure that hotels are visible to these users during their travel planning journey.

By utilizing Google Hotel Ads, hotels can expand their reach, drive direct bookings, optimize their marketing spend, and stay competitive in the online travel market. It is an essential component of any hotel's digital marketing strategy, allowing them to capitalize on the extensive reach and real-time nature of Google's search engine and advertising platforms.

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Jordan Hollander
CEO @ HotelTechReport Linkedin profile
Jordan is the co-founder of HotelTechReport, the hotel industry's app store where millions of professionals discover tech tools to transform their businesses. He was previously on the Global Partnerships team at Starwood Hotels & Resorts. Prior to his work with SPG, Jordan was Director of Business Development at MWT Hospitality and an equity analyst at Wells Capital Management. Jordan received his MBA from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management where he was a Zell Global Entrepreneurship Scholar and a Pritzker Group Venture Fellow.