Over the past year, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought the hospitality and the travel industries to a grinding halt and, while we look forward with optimism with the vaccinations underway, certain regions across the globe are slowly picking up the pieces and preparing for a swift return to normalcy.
NB: This is an article from Milestone
Hotels are opening their doors with precautions and flight passenger volumes are recovering and signify that the pre-pandemic times and conditions are within sight.
To aid businesses that have suffered enormous losses during this ongoing period, Google made it free for partners to participate in Google Flights in April 2020 – following the onset of the virus. Now, to support the hospitality and the travel industries, they have rolled out organic meta listings in its Hotel Ads section, which was previously only available for paid partners and its shelf space dominated by online travel agencies (OTAs).
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How the organic meta listings will benefit businesses and travelers alike
For travelers, the organic listings of hotel partners offer a wider range of hotels to choose from – based on their budget, and various other factors that suit their vacation or business plans.
For hotels, this is the perfect platform for them to improve their reach, and alleviate their dependence on OTAs – thereby reducing the lion’s share of the revenue consumed by them.
How Google’s ‘Hotel Ads’ organic meta listings work
By clicking on ‘View More Rates’ on the Knowledge Panel, you will now see a new section for the organic meta listings under ‘All Options’ which is followed by the Paid listings (Featured Options).
Notice that the hotel that is already a Google Hotel Ads partner, appears in the Featured Option in position 1 as well as in the organic meta listings section (All Options).
What does this mean for Google’s existing Hotel Ad partners?
Google has clearly stated that existing participants in the Hotel Ads and Hotels Prices API needn’t worry about the new update and that they will automatically be considered in the organic listings section.
That said, for paid listings, due to their higher positioning they would presumably attract far higher clicks than the free listings below them – considering that the organic listings represent less than 5% of the traffic on Google Hotel Ads.
Coming to our main focus of how hotels can be featured in the organic meta listings section, Google has said that any hotel that has a Hotel Center Account (setup with the help of a connectivity partner) will be eligible to participate and featured as an organic meta listing.
An interesting observation, if a search is carried out for a particular hotel, Google is granting the highest position to the official website of the hotel in the organic listing section. This is irrespective of whether the hotel was a paid partner. Take a look:
If the hotel is a paid partner as well, then the top spot is granted to the hotel website in the ‘All Options’ section and in the ‘Featured Options’ section (if it offers the best rate).
Listings in the ‘All Options’ section will be ordered based on authority, trust, and relevance – filters used by the user, such as type of occupancy, number of people staying in a room, availability, etc.
With this update in the limelight, Google has emphasized that they will ease the process of onboarding new partners while ensuring that the trust of the links displayed is of utmost importance to them.