A major change is happening that hotels will soon start becoming aware of. For the first time, Google users can now book a hotel room without leaving the search giant’s familiar desktop interface copying the recent introduction by Tripadvisor’s of their Instant Booking.
Although yet to be announced officially, Google-managed bookings appear to be slowly rolling out across a handful of listings in U.S. desktop search. Google has long offered hotel metasearch through its Search and Maps products. But it has always allowed users to go off to hotel websites and online travel agencies to complete the transactions.
The new strategy of keeping users on it´s recognizable and minimalist Google user experience — with barely any hotel branding should lead to increased conversions. However, it also runs against its advertising business of helping online travel agencies get bookings. Expedia Inc and Priceline Group according to estimates, contribute about 5% to Google advertising revenue.
This change in booking strategy is similar to the one followed by TripAdvisor. For about a year, the user-reviews giant has been rolling out Instant Booking, in which it allows metasearch transactions to keep users within its interface. Google faces a similar challenge to the one facing TripAdvisor in getting hotels and hotel chains to participate in its instant booking tool. At present none of the major US hotel chains appears to be participating in Google’s scheme so far. TripAdvisor has also struggled, only landing Marriott, Choice and Accor so far.
Clicking on the option to book directly with the hotel used to take the client off to their website to finish the transaction. But now users are sent to a Google booking page. Once a user selects a room, they share their contact information for receiving a confirmation email from the hotel directly. The user then enters credit card information, if they haven’t already provided that to Google Wallet. Google’s hotel tool completes the purchase within its interface:
It is unclear who was helping Google interact with the hotel booking systems. Sabre Hospitality Solutions has been rumoured, which has more than 20,000 independent hotel customers for its central reservation systems software. Sabre also revealed its was in beta-testing with Google on a new commission-based (not pay-per-click) model for letting hotels receive bookings via visitors using organic search in Google search and Maps. If Sabre decides to also market Google’s instant booking feature, it may be able to convince many of the 20,000 or so independent hotels that use its central reservation system to sign up.
Irrespective of this change by Google which is still yet to be announced officially, independent hotels still have to first connect to Google HPA. Their sheer influence for mobile users and the fact that recent surveys have shown that 70% of travellers use their smartphone as part of their booking process should make it clear that by not being connected to google, will just hand possible direct bookings to the OTA´s that are connected. If you change your rates less than once a week, then Hotelient can help you get connected very easily and provide training on how to keep your rates updated. Do not loose out on this great opportunity to increase your direct bookings. Email us firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.