With all the heated discussions about Google dominating travel and increasing calls by industry pundits and experts to lessen hospitalitys dependency on the search giant, one thing is for certain: cash-strapped hoteliers today simply cannot just pause or abandon their marketing presence on Google.
With all the heated discussions about Google dominating travel and increasing calls by industry pundits and experts to lessen hospitality’s dependency on the search giant, one thing is for certain: cash-strapped hoteliers today simply cannot just pause or abandon their marketing presence on Google.
Today, despite the crisis and all the industry sufferings, hotel marketers cannot ignore Google in the same manner as they could not have done this in any of the last 20 years.
On average, Google directly contributes, in the form of organic referrals (SEO, AMPs, Schema, content marketing, etc.) and paid/performance marketing referrals (SEM, GDN, GHA, etc.) to over 50% of direct online room nights for most hoteliers.
This does not include OTA room nights, the bulk of which come as a result of the OTA performance marketing on Google to the tune of $11 billion a year.
During the pandemic, Google has not only maintained but increased its search market share and in August 2020 Google controlled 87.3% market share in the U.S., 93.24% in Europe and 91.5% in Asia.
There are two major developments at Google that directly affect hotel marketers:
1. Google is the shepherd of the digital customer journey
Google has become increasingly adept at positioning itself at and making money in the form of referral and CPA (Cost per acquisition) fees from each of the five phases of the Digital Customer Journey: Dreaming, Planning, Booking, Experiencing and Sharing Phases.
Google now “owns” the customer in the Dreaming and Planning Phases and directly influences conversions in the Booking Phase, as well as increasingly controls customer engagements in the Experiencing (on-property) and Sharing (post-stay) Phases via Google My Business, Local Experiences, Google Reviews, etc.
2. Google is an integrated advertising ecosystem:
Google has become a fully integrated advertising platform – an advertising ecosystem – where all advertising formats are intertwined and work in concert. User engagements in the upper funnel (SEO, content marketing, YouTube TrueView, Gmail Ads, etc.) influences conversions in the lower funnel (Google Ads, Google Hotel Ads, Google Display Network, RLSA, Customer Match, etc.), and a campaign in one advertising format directly influences the results from all other formats.
Add to that the first-party user data Google accumulates, refreshes and enriches on a daily basis from any user interactions, search, communication and intent signals on Google and Google App, Chrome, Android, Gmail, YouTube, etc. and you get the full picture: Google knows more about any given Internet user and online travel consumer than NSA, FBI, CIA, DHS, Interpol, KGB and Mossad combined.
These two key developments should determine how hotel marketers budget, plan and execute their Google marketing strategy in the Google ecosystem and what initiatives they should use to reach travel consumers throughout the digital customer journey and how, hopefully, turn them into hotel guests in the post-crisis era.
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