This article combines 3 core tips from mirai
- How to view Google Hotel Ads results as if you were in another country
- Does your website auto-detect the user’s language?
- How to browse the internet of other countries?
#1: How to view Google Hotel Ads results as if you were in another country
Google has its own website for each country. This is what they call POS or point-of-sale. For the UK they have google.co.uk, for France google.fr or for Spain google.es. The POS google.com is reserved for the USA.
As a hotelier it is very useful to navigate as your clients do (in their countries) which is a very different reality from the one you see from your hotel. So you can see your own Ads, OTA Ads by your name, or the disparities that OTAs make to you on Google Hotel Ads, and check if you are really competitive in each market, as we explain in the post “10 requirements to internationalize your direct channel sales“. This is the only way you will be able to observe from the customer’s perspective, get to know them, and thus win the game of OTAs. We explain you how to do it in a very easy way.
By default, Google refers users to the POS in their country. For example, from the UK even if you enter google.com you will be redirected to google.co.uk. However, you can configure Google to show you the results as if you were in another country.
1. Decide which issuing market you want to test. Let’s say, for example, France.
2. Go to www.google.fr (make sure you are not redirected to another POS).
3. You will see that no marketplace is selected or an “unknown location” appears in the footer. This means that it is showing you content as if you were in your country and not in the UK.
4. Click on Settings and select “search settings”.
5. In the last block you will see these two settings where it indicates:
a. “The region on which to show results.” You will see that you have selected “Current Region” which is your current country. We choose France.
b. “The language in which Google shows us the results. We chose French in this case because we want to see what french people see in their language.
When you save this settings, Google will confirm with a message like this. Verify that you are still at google.fr in this case:
6. You will be automatically redirected to www.google.fr and you should see this. Confirm that in the footer you see France as a marketplace.
7. If you do a search now you will see that Google Hotel Ads shows you the prices in euros and the points of sale of OTAs from fr as in this case Expedia.fr.
Important note. The configuration is saved for each POS. If after this you go to google.co.uk, for example, you will be browsing again from your country and not from France. If you want to search from Spain in Spanish you will have to follow the same steps in google.es after which you should see the following screen.
After these steps, every time you browse google.fr you will do it as if you were in France and the same for google.es. From now on, configure the Google POS you want according to the markets you want to control.
#2: Does your website auto-detect the user’s language? This is how you can find out
One of the requirements that your direct channel must meet in order to adapt to the international client is to detect the language of the client and automatically adapt your website. How can you check this?
You can use Chrome or Firefox to run the test. On Chrome you must go to Preferences > Advanced > Languages and there you will find this menu where you can set your language preferences (in order of preference). In the following example we have set Japanese as the first language (thus emulating a Japanese user) but we can use any other language.
After this, delete the browser cache and cookies and open a new incognito window (File > New incognito window). Type in a URL without specifying a language, such as https://www.liabeny.es/, and hit Enter. If this website contains the language you have set in your preferences (as is the case) and the website solution auto-detects said language (as is also the case) it will redirect you to https://www.liabeny.es/ja
You can run as many tests as you like, but always remember to start from scratch (delete cookies and cache).
#3: How to browse the internet of other countries? This is how you can find out
There are still hotels that offer different rates for different source markets -if their booking engine has this functionality, as we explain in the post “10 requirements to internationalize the sales of your direct channel“-. They do it to compete with the OTA’s that “play” these practices or in markets where the direct channel is not doing so well but OTA’s are thriving. And, how can you detect if they are changing your price in other markets? You have to browse the internet of other countries.
Technically, what you need is called a VPN to connect first to another country before browsing there. There is a wide range of software and plugins available for Chrome. Unfortunately, the free versions are not usually very good and can also be unsafe. At Mirai, we use the paid version of PureVPN and we openly recommend it. You will also be able to use it to detect disparities offered by OTA’s in third countries that negatively affect your business. That way you will put it to good use.
If you want to run a quick but less controlled test you can use the Opera browser, which has a free built-in VPN option. If you go to Preferences > Advanced > Features you will find a VPN section
Once activated, you will find a VPN button on the navigation bar, on the left-hand side of the URL, where you can choose the “continent” where you want to browse the internet. You cannot choose a specific country, but to run a test it is more than enough.
If you choose Asia, for instance, and then look at a hotel and its prices, you will notice it shows them in Singapore Dollars, which confirms this hotel appears in Asia.
After using the VPN, you should disable it by going back to Preferences > Advanced > Features.