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PPC for Hotels: Everything You Need to Know About Pay-Per-Click Ads

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Jordan Hollander in Marketing

Last updated November 29, 2023

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Did you know that the top 3 sites in the Google search results get nearly 50% of all the clicks? Pay-per-click advertising is a great way for your hotel to get more visibility and for your website to get more traffic. Not only that, but third-party channels like Expedia and Booking.com are running their own ads in those top spots, so if your direct website isn’t visible there, then the OTAs will get all the clicks. Getting started with pay-per-click advertising can be overwhelming, and all the new terminology might feel like learning a foreign language. In this article, we’ll introduce you to the basics of PPC ads, how to start leveraging them in your marketing strategy, and what to look for as you set goals and measure performance. You’ll soon be able to take advantage of this exciting advertising channel to maximize your hotel’s online visibility, drive targeted traffic to your website, and increase your revenue.

Understanding PPC for Hotels

Let’s start at the beginning: what are PPC ads? Pay-per-click ads are a type of digital advertising in which the advertiser pays a fee to the publisher every time someone clicks on their ads. Google AdWords is the biggest PPC ad platform, and Google’s PPC ads can appear in Google search results as well on other Google products, like Google Maps. PPC ads can be text, images, videos, and other formats, and placements are awarded through an auction in which the highest bidder (the advertiser willing to pay the highest fee per click) gets the best placement. For example, in Google search results, the ad at the top of the search results has a higher cost per click compared to the third ad in the search results. But Google isn’t the only publisher of PPC ads in the hotel space; Expedia and Booking.com both offer PPC ads on their platforms, where hotels can pay a premium for optimal placement of their Expedia or Booking.com listings.

We’ll discuss campaign setup in more detail later, but know that PPC campaigns provide a few main benefits to hoteliers, including tight control over budget, increased brand awareness, detailed targeting options, and measurable return on ad spend.

Conducting Keyword Research

When you’re considering launching PPC ads that will appear in Google search results, one of the prerequisites to building your ad campaign is conducting keyword research. In order to build an ad that’s relevant and will get good visibility, you need to understand what your potential guests are searching for. It might be intuitive to base your campaign on keywords that include your hotel’s exact name, but that would mean your campaign would only show to shoppers who are typing your hotel’s name into Google, thus limiting your reach. If your hotel is near the Atlanta airport, you might also want to appear in searches for “Atlanta airport hotels” or “hotels near ATL.”

Google provides a keyword research tool within the AdWords interface. With this tool, you can not only discover new keyword ideas, but you can also get a sense for the search volume and cost per click (CPC) of keywords you want to target. For instance, “Atlanta hotels” might get a lot of volume, but it also has more competition, so the CPC is likely higher than a lower-volume phrase, such as “midtown Atlanta hotels.” If your hotel is in Midtown and you don’t have the budget for expensive clicks, then maybe you focus your ads on Midtown-related keywords instead of more broad “Atlanta hotels.”

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Crafting Compelling Ad Copy

Once you’ve narrowed down keywords to target, you’ll want to craft clear and compelling ad copy for your ad. Google Ads include a Headline, which is the short line of blue text at the top of the ad, and a Description, which is the longer strings of text that appears beneath the Headline. Google can shuffle between several different Headline and Description options, so it’s a good idea to create a few of each. Strong ad copy will include your hotel’s unique selling points, relevant keywords, and a call-to-action that encourages users to click on the ad and book on your website. Many hotels include mention of any benefits guests can enjoy when they book direct – this helps the ad stand out among ads from OTAs. 



Optimizing Landing Pages

Every PPC ad is linked to a landing page; to maximize conversion rate and optimize the user experience, you’ll want to use landing pages that are relevant to the search terms. It may make sense to have a unique landing page for every ad you run, complete with the most relevant photos, content, and call-to-action. It’s also important for your website to be optimized for mobile and have fast loading times, otherwise users will leave your site immediately, giving you a high “bounce” rate, which can hinder your site;s performance.

Setting Up PPC Campaigns

To create a PPC campaign on big platforms like Google and Bing, you’ll first choose your campaign type, which could be text, video, or display. You’ll then set targeting options (location, devices, timing, etc.), specify your budget and bid strategy, create your ad copy, and provide a landing page. Additional options (called “ad extensions”) are available to enhance your ad, such as Sitelinks, which callout other relevant links to your site, and Image extensions, which allow you to publish photos alongside your text ads. In general, Google and Bing both work well for hotels, although Google will typically generate 10x the traffic of Bing, but since you pay per click, there’s no harm in launching Bing as well.

Monitoring and Analyzing PPC Performance

Since your PPC campaigns spend money on a daily basis and generate a lot of performance data, it’s important to set targets and maintain a routine of monitoring and optimizing campaign performance. On a regular basis, you’ll want to track impressions, clicks, click-through rate, conversion rate, cost per click, and cost per acquisition. If you notice click-through rate decreasing over time, then you might want to update your ad copy to make your ad more compelling. Or if you notice your volume of impressions drop, you might need to increase your bids slightly to become more competitive and get more visibility. Google offers several tools to help you understand and boost your performance while staying on track with your target return on ad spend.

PPC Budgeting and Bid Management

PPC ads run on a budget so you remain in control of how much your campaigns spend. You can set campaign-level budgets that are constrained by a return on ad spend goal or by a daily spending cap. For instance, maybe you are comfortable spending $100 per day on ads, but you want to maintain a 5:1 return on ad spend, meaning that every $10 you spend generates $50 in revenue. You can make manual adjustments to your spend strategy, or you can leverage Google’s automated bidding to do the heavy lifting for you.

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SiteMinder Demand Plus makes driving more direct bookings effortless by managing your PPC listings on leading metasearch sites like Google Hotel Ads, Trivago and TripAdvisor.
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SiteMinder Demand Plus Hotel Metasearch Management Software
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SiteMinder Demand Plus makes driving more direct bookings effortless by managing your PPC listings on leading metasearch sites like Google Hotel Ads, Trivago and TripAdvisor.
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Full Service PPC Management Services

Interested in launching PPC ads but don’t have the bandwidth to run them in-house? Many hoteliers find value in partnering with an expert to outsource PPC management. Several vendors that provide metasearch connectivity, such as Koddi and WIHP, also offer PPC, or paid search, management. Another popular choice is to work with an agency like Bookassist, SHR, or Screen Pilot who can manage all of your advertising campaigns in addition to PR, website management, and more. When working with a vendor or an agency, you’ll typically pay a management fee that’s either a flat monthly fee or a percentage of your ad spend. While you’ll end up paying slightly more in this arrangement compared to managing in-house, your campaigns may also perform better, since you can tap into the deep expertise that these companies offer.

Ready to start promoting your hotel through PPC ads? Pay-per-click advertising can be a great way to gain more visibility and generate more revenue while spending a specific budget. PPC ads are quick to set up, relatively straightforward to manage, and flexible enough to work for hotels of all shapes and sizes. And since these ads allow for customization and targeting, PPC can be a nice complement to any other marketing strategies and can help you increase your direct share.

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THE PITCH
RATINGS BEST FOR
100 HT Score
Hotel Tech Score is a composite ranking comprising of key signals such as: user satisfaction, review quantity, review recency, and vendor submitted information to help buyers better understand their products.
Learn More
SHR provides efficient management of PPC campaigns for hotels, enhancing online presence and supporting revenue growth
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Digital Marketing by SHR Group (formerly Avvio) Digital Marketing Agencies
THE PITCH
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100 HT Score
SHR provides efficient management of PPC campaigns for hotels, enhancing online presence and supporting revenue growth
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Hotel Tech Score is a composite ranking comprising of key signals such as: user satisfaction, review quantity, review recency, and vendor submitted information to help buyers better understand their products.
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THE PITCH
RATINGS BEST FOR
91 HT Score
Hotel Tech Score is a composite ranking comprising of key signals such as: user satisfaction, review quantity, review recency, and vendor submitted information to help buyers better understand their products.
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Build your digital brand. Create demand, capture web and mobile sales, tap into metasearch, analyze and optimize digital advertising.
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Investing in Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising is crucial for hotels to enhance their visibility and competitiveness in the ever-evolving digital marketing landscape. PPC services, such as Google Ads and AdWords, play a pivotal role in this strategy. By utilizing PPC management, hotels can effectively target specific search terms and demographics, ensuring that their hotel ads appear prominently on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) to potential guests actively looking for hotel accommodations or special offers.

PPC campaigns in the hospitality industry, especially for luxury hotels, are tailored to attract a target audience, often focusing on keywords and phrases identified through meticulous keyword research. This research often includes long-tail keywords that are more specific and less competitive, enhancing the chance of appearing in organic search results. A well-optimized hotel PPC campaign, which is an integral part of search engine marketing, can significantly improve a hotel's online travel presence and user experience.

The importance of PPC advertising for hotels also lies in its cost-effectiveness and measurable impact. Metrics such as Click-Through Rate (CTR), Conversion Rate, and Cost Per Click (CPC) provide clear insights into the performance of PPC ads, enabling hoteliers to tweak their marketing strategy for maximum Return on Investment (ROI). Moreover, PPC allows for the flexibility of ad spend, making it a scalable component of a hotel's digital marketing efforts.

Remarketing is another key aspect of PPC strategy, allowing hotels to re-engage with users who have previously visited their hotel website but did not make a booking. This approach helps in reinforcing the hotel brand and keeping the hotel top of mind for potential guests.

In addition to direct bookings, PPC also complements a hotel's SEO efforts. While SEO focuses on improving organic rankings over time, PPC offers immediate visibility in search engines, ensuring that the hotel appears for highly competitive search terms. This dual approach ensures a robust online presence for the hotel.

Integration with social media and other Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) can augment a hotel’s PPC strategy. Tailored ad copy and compelling call to actions on landing pages further enhance the effectiveness of hotel PPC campaigns.

PPC advertising is a cornerstone of a successful hotel marketing strategy in the digital age. It offers precision targeting, immediate results, measurable metrics, and high ROI, making it an indispensable tool for hoteliers in the competitive hospitality industry.

Ready to start promoting your hotel through PPC ads? Pay-per-click advertising can be a great way to gain more visibility and generate more revenue while spending a specific budget. PPC ads are quick to set up, relatively straightforward to manage, and flexible enough to work for hotels of all shapes and sizes. And since these ads allow for customization and targeting, PPC can be a nice complement to any other marketing strategies and can help you increase your direct share.

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Jordan Hollander
Jordan is the co-founder of Hotel Tech Report, 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.