Local Adwords Ads Dominate

This morning I spoke of the Google Hotel experiment that made search results into interactive local content. It is not clear if this is the new normal or a test but on this search for bed and breakfast St. Augustine and every hotel search, Adwords with Location Extensions and Adwords Express are now showing as interactive local content on hotel searches. No non local ads need apply.

By changing the dates of the visit, a hotel searcher remains on the search results page and sees a changing display display of local hotels that one presumes are available during those dates. The local ads, dominating the page, either point to the Places page with the booking tool as opposed to the hotel website or provide an instant choice to book via Google’s Hotel booking ad via on the online travel agencies.

The highest blended result is now below the fold and with it, the first link to TripAdvisor or any 3rd party review site.

Whoah dude! Must be that Google doesn’t think organic results can be as useful to searchers as ads.

(Click to view larger)

The results are similar with the 7-pack showing, although obviously more local results:

More Details On Google Places Hotel Booking Feature

Details about Google Places Hotel booking feature, first widely seen in November, are starting to leak out. Google has been somewhat reticent to make meaningful public comments and provide significant details about it. This Places feature allows users to select a booking date, click through from the Places Page and immediately begin the booking process.

It was reported yesterday at Travolution.co.uk, in an apparent press release, that Worldhotels was now offering the Google feature to its affiliate hotels:

Independent hotels can now post information including room rates on Google Maps and Google Places using Worldhotels.

The hotel group is the first of its kind to allow independent hotels to display their real time rates and availability on Google Maps and Places.

This pay-per-click ad model is connected with the groups booking engine. The first hotel to test the new pricing display option is the Worldhotels property Georgian Terrace in Atlanta, USA.

Worldhotels is a company that provides a marketing umbrella that allows independent hotels to maintain their uniqueness but take advantage of back room processes that benefit from scale like booking, rewards programs, negotiating better rates with online booking companies and now obviously, access to Google’s Pay Per Click hotel booking test.

Rather than give up between 25 and 50% of their booking fees to the online travel sites, independent hotels can join a group like Worldhotel for a very small percentage of each booking while additionally taking advantage of other programs like frequent visitor benefits that the affiliate organizer has to offer.

In the case of Google Places, the hotel noted in the press release, is offering a Petite Single Room for their discounted rate of $116 (the same room is $199 through their site) which is exactly the same as the Expedia/Travelocity price. The cost to the hotel is likely the 2% affiliate booking fee plus their AdWords cost vs the 15-25% that they would normally be paying to the online travel site. Thus they could be paying somewhere on the order of $4.50 for the booking versus $31 via the current system. This model, while still in its infancy, is likely to put pressure on the margins of the online travel booking sites.

Google has noted that they are also “exploring ways to allow individual hoteliers to easily share updated pricing / availability” which would mean that even hotels not in a franchise or otherwise affiliated would likewise be able to take advantage of the savings in such a system.

It will be interesting to discover how Google is pricing the pay per click ads in this model. What are the current costs of PPC for hotels in major markets?

Related posts:

  1. Google Places Hotel Booking Feature To Be Available to All …. Someday
  2. Google Places Upgrade: Reviews with Sentiments & Hotel Booking Tool
  3. What is The Real Reason that TripAdvisor Is Limiting Review Content To Places?

Google Places Hotel Booking Feature To Be Available to All …. Someday

In November of 2010, Google integrated a hotel booking feature into the Place Page of most hotels. This is a feature that Google started testing in March of 2010. The feature is currently only available to a limited number of partners but Google noted today (after several months of inquiries) in the Help Forums that it will, one day, be available to all:

Thanks for your questions everyone. What you’re seeing is a new feature that shows price and availability for hotels. We’re currently working with a number of partners to allow users to click through and begin the booking process. In addition, we’re working to expand these partnerships and exploring ways to allow individual hoteliers to easily share updated pricing / availability. In the interim, you can already add direct booking links in Google Places (see help article ). Thanks for your excitement about participating; we’re looking forward to opening this up to more partners.



From a small hotel’s point of view, this can happen none to soon. Often times the likes of Orbitz or Expedia can take 25% of their booking fees on a regular basis and upwards of 50% in a clearance situation. While the large hotel booking sites do not like the idea of “disintermediation”, the hotel chains and small hotels most definitely would.

At some point we can assume that Google is planning on making the Places Page a transactional environment for many industries. This is likely but the initial foray.

Google Places Hotel Booking Feature

Related posts:

  1. Google Places Upgrade: Reviews with Sentiments & Hotel Booking Tool
  2. Google Places (LBC) Feature- Allows Discreet Links in Additional Detail Fields
  3. What is The Real Reason that TripAdvisor Is Limiting Review Content To Places?