April 27, 2022 · Jeremy Razook

The Evolution of Google Hotel Search Results

Updated for 2022

Google is quickly becoming the complete funnel for many of the searches and transactions we make online. When we first published this article in 2018, Google already made significant strides within the hotel and travel space and was in the process of adding even more features and functionalities.

According to a recent study by Similarweb (2022), as of October 2021, nearly 20% of keyword searches resulted in a search engine results page (SERP) feature on the results page. In January 2020, that percentage was lower than 5%. Hoteliers are no stranger to Google’s SERP features like hotel listings, map packs, pricing tools, and ad-supported spaces. Ultimately, it’s Google’s way of keeping its nearly 90% search market share within its search and buying ecosystem.

In this article, we are going to look at the updates Google has made over the past several years to its hotel and travel SERP results and features, and their effects on hotels and OTAs.

Table of Contents

Google Improves the Hotel Listing Experience

Back in October 2018, Google made a significant announcement that they would be rolling out a suite of design and functionality improvements to the hotel shopping experience. The gist of the announcement is that the information you can find within Google’s own environment would rival that of TripAdvisor and other OTAs.

In doing so, Google put the finishing pieces on what has arguably become the most complete hotel shopping and booking system available. Within Google’s hotel shopping ecosystem, you’ll find price comparisons, hotel details and overviews, Google reviews, reviews sourced from around the web, and hotel photos.

Google hotel listing overview section.

As a hotel, it’s on you to ensure the information on your hotel listing is accurate. Just in case you haven’t read our Google Business Profile for Hotels guide, Google Business Profile is going to be the place to start for any hotelier. By ensuring you have an optimized hotel listing, compelling photos, and are responding to guest reviews, you will put yourself in a position for success.

Improved Hotel Searching and Filtering

In 2018, Google rolled out a new search and filtering system to the search engine results page for hotel searches. In 2022, similar features still exist in addition to new hotel highlight icons and hotel listing callouts.

Hotel pack on Google search results.

Data has already proven that a vast majority of hotel decisions begin with a search and, based on the ever-evolving hotel SERP tools, customers will continue to stay on Google’s system for much longer as they slice and dice to find their perfect hotel.

Google’s push to gather more and more reviews makes searches even more valuable. Back in 2018, Google was revealed as the number one online review site, outperforming Tripadvisor and other OTAs. Today, Google continues to be a leading source for hotel reviews. Now, searchers can get enough information from Google to validate a booking decision without having to visit Tripadvisor or an OTA.

Improved Hotel Price Insights

Google Flights is the most convenient and most accurate way to search and find the best airline deals. Over the years Google has attempted to bring this same level of convenience to the hotel space. Google has upped its game with several new tools and updates to existing tools:

  • Hotel price alerts
  • Price comparisons to other nearby or related properties
  • Ability to save and track rates for a location
  • Pricing trends
Google Travel pricing trends and averages for hotels.
Google’s hotel pricing trends are based on the star rating of the hotels in your desired location and your preferred stay dates.
Google Travel hotel pricing comparison.
Easily compare prices between hotels on Google.
Google search results date pricing feature.
Google’s hotel date pricing feature.

Google Improves Hotel-Centric Advertising Opportunities

If you’re familiar with the Tripadvisor cost-per-click bidding and management system you know that it… well, it sucks. Enter Google Hotel Ads (GHA), Google’s version of a cost-per-click campaign model that rivals that of Tripadvisor. Metasearch is a major factor for hotel direct bookings and if Google can continue to improve its own metasearch channel, it could land a devastating left-right combo by allowing hotels to spend more effectively and pull advertiser revenue away from one of TripAdvisor’s most lucrative platforms.

Is GHA perfect? No. Making it easy to spend money consistently within GHA has been an ongoing struggle for Google. However, GHA does integrate with the Google Ads platform, offering more granularity in reporting and more opportunities to optimize campaigns. Something Tripadvisor is severely lacking. TravelBoom has even partnered with software providers to get the most spend in GHA and other metasearch platforms for our clients.

Google’s full suite of hotel-centric ads includes:

  • GHA
  • Paid search advertising
  • Display advertising
  • Youtube video advertising
  • Discovery advertising
  • Performance Max advertising
  • App promotion advertising

Google Travel is the New Google Trips

Google did away with Google Trips in August 2019, leaving travelers to find other methods for keeping tabs on their travel plans. That left a massive opportunity for Google to introduce the internet’s ultimate travel planning tool.

Enter Google Travel. This robust travel planner lets you build a travel itinerary from the ground up, providing recommendations, things to do, flights, hotels, pricing, articles, and more about the destinations you’re interested in visiting. During your research, you can even bookmark hotels, attractions, and articles to add to your itinerary.

Google Travel bookmarked items.
Bookmarked items are saved to your travel plans folder.

You can also filter your hotel search based on search dates, number of guests, star-rating, pricing, amenities, guest rating, and more. While Google Travel shares similar features to that of a Tripadvisor Explore, Google Travel also extends its services to pricing trends, visiting trends, and where to stay.

Google Posts Available to Hotels

In 2021, Google finally extended its Google Business Profile Posts functionality to hotel listings. Hotels can now reach guests in a new way and create a feed of important, timely information for guests like renovations, events, or new amenities.

At this time, hotels can’t create posts that promote or link out to offers, discounts, or specials. Google says this “ensures that customers don’t get confused about where to navigate on the hotel placesheet to find organic and ad prices from partners.” In other words, it may provide an advantage to hotels over traditional ad bidding services, like GHA.

COVID Updates for Destinations

Back in early 2021, Google introduced travel advisories and COVID updates to travel search results. These updates typically appear underneath hotel packs and use sourced information about the destination you’re searching.

covid travel updates via google search

You can either click the source link for more information or select to receive updates. Post-vaccination, this can be a useful feature for anyone near the top of the purchasing funnel.

Key Takeaways

  • Make sure your Google Business Profile is optimized and you are taking full advantage of this platform. Learn more about local SEO for hotels to improve your hotel’s visibility.
  • Work with your agency to make sure you are pushing your traditional pay-per-click campaigns to their limit.
  • Review your GHA campaign and make sure you are fully utilizing the platform. If you’re not already using GHA, TravelBoom can help you get started.
  • Have a plan to grow your Google reviews.
  • Review your marketing budget for 2022 and make sure you are positioning your efforts to take advantage of Google’s push into the hotel space.

Ready to Increase Direct Bookings?

Contact TravelBoom today for a complimentary marketing evaluation with customized recommendations on how to reduce reliance on third-party bookings.

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