Fuel Hotel Marketing Podcast: Episode 47 – Is Google Becoming An OTA?

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2016 was a year full of fun new surprises for our favorite search engine. Travel, in particular, seems to be a special area of interest for Google as the search engine continued to revamp existing products and roll out brand new travel experiences.

In this episode, we discuss the likelihood that Google will bite the hand that feeds it and become a full fledged OTA.


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Show Notes:

Google Hotel Ads (formerly Hotel Price Ads)

  • Name change occurred in 2016
  • Ads show up across Google SERPS (for brand & non-brand searches – no keyword data available) and across Google Maps
  • Bidding options:
    • Max CPC – Bid is % of room price or fixed amount per night
    • Budget Optimizer – Partner sets max daily budget, Google optimizes bid to acquire maximum traffic
    • Target ROAS – Set bid based on % of hotel’s booking value, Google optimizes bid to achieve to reach target you set
    • Commission (limited partners only) – Set commission on hotel group or account level, only pay commission on consumed guest stay

Destinations on Google

  • Launched Spring 2016
  • Triggers with certain (often broad) search terms (ex: barcelona vacation)
  • Takes many different forms depending on the search term (see images below)
  • Upon clicking into “destinations”, user is redirected to google.com/destinations
  • Wealth of information available
    • Area attractions & things to do
    • Travel information → Hotel and flight schedules and pricing
    • Travel guides
    • Trip planning guide → Select travel dates & use wizard
    • Google Flights & Google Hotel Ads integration
    • Pretty damn good user experience

Google Trips App

  • Launched fall 2016
  • Allows travelers to create personalized travel itineraries
    • Imports travel plans (via email) – flights, hotel reservations, etc.
    • Research and save destination specific information – restaurants, things to do, day plans, getting around, etc.
  • Cannot book travel plans via the app….. Yet.
  • How helpful is this app? → Why is this not just an app version of Destinations on Google??

AdWords in the Travel Space / The Modern Travel SERP

  • 4 ads → Replaced 3 ad format
  • Modern travel SERP format:
    • 4 paid ads
    • Google Map visualization
    • 3-4 Google Hotel Ads listings
    • Organic search results

Will Google Eventually Become an OTA?

  • Google has thus far claimed that they have no intention of entering the OTA space.
  • Google’s travel business is already twice the size of Expedia’s alone. Just think about the massive amounts of revenue Google generates from OTAs using products like Google AdWords and Google Hotel Ads.
  • To put things into perspective, it is estimated that Google will generate roughly $12.2 billion in revenue from travel in 2016, with approximately $6.2 billion of that coming from just four major travel spenders (Priceline, Expedia, TripAdvisor, and Airbnb). → If Google were to move into the OTA space, they would risk alienating themselves from their largest travel advertisers.
  • Google also claims to want to help consumers begin planning their trip in the earliest stage through their current product set and that they do not want to become a trip-planning site, which would somewhat explain why Google Trips does not (yet) include booking functionality.

Verdict: Maybe… but not anytime soon.

Download the full Travel Trends study at https://www.travelboommarketing.com/2017-travel-trends/.


In The News

Mobile Searches Reach Record High

Can’t Find a News Article about it, but
Google adds in capability to manually add hotel and flight reservations to the Google Trips app.  Integrates bus and train reservation data


Download the Fuel & Flip.to Website Behavior Study at www.fueltravel.com/websitestudy/


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Submit your questions and topic ideas on Twitter to @_travelboom. Download our leisure travel study at www.fueltravel.com/study/.

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