The hotel industry is being decimated currently during COVID-19 and its high time the hotel industry purges themselves of Google and Online Travel Agents (OTA).
Well, okay not so much Google but if they organised themselves they could give Google a spanking it will not forget for their treatment by Google during this unprecedented time.
Google My Business is currently in overdrive with helpful tips and upgrades for businesses to implement and use, whilst hotels burn!
DYK you can use Posts to communicate timely information directly to your customers, straight from your Business Profile on Google? https://t.co/AFu8Ir0C9X pic.twitter.com/ZwqXMPpc8v
— Google Small Business (@GoogleSmallBiz) March 17, 2020
How are Hotels Restricted by Google
Business listing features denied to hotels within Google My Business that are provided to other businesses.
|Business Listing Features||Lodging Categories||Other Business Categories|
|Appointment / Booking URL||No||Yes|
|Menu / Services URL||No||Yes|
|Services / Product Menu||No||Yes|
|Business Description||No (google writes this)||Yes|
|Google Posts (Event)||No||Yes|
|Google Posts (Offers)||No||Yes|
|Google Posts (Products)||No||Yes|
|Booking Button||Yes (commission paid)||Yes (free)|
What Hotels Need During COVID-19 Crisis
Hotels need the ability to use Google Posts plus the new COVID-19 post that are available to other businesses.
Contrary to perception, some hotels have closed but hotels in large cities and tourist destinations have hundreds of thousands of people trapped in hotels due to flight and country lock downs. These people need to make informed decisions on what hotels are providing.
Equally Key Workers wanting to keep their families safe are opting to move out of their homes into hotels to keep their families safe during this period.
What Role Are OTA’s Playing in This
OTA’s tie hotels into contracts where they cannot offer prices in direct competition to their listed prices.
As far as I am aware there have been no lifting of these from OTA’s allowing hotels to offer their own reduced prices or lower commissions charged by OTA’s.
One lesson to come out of the #CoronaCrisis is never, ever use a 3rd party booking agent for your hotels. They can't/won't refund while the hotels are able to do that with direct bookings.
You may have cost me £XXXs @bookingcom but that's the last time I'll be using your site
— Nick Wilsdon (@nickwilsdon) March 21, 2020
OTA’s have also behaved appallingly with customers who have had to cancel bookings due to COVID-19.
How Can Hotels Purge Themselves from This Monopoly
1. Cancel all OTA’s
Before you freak out at this suggestion, lets take a look at the benefits.
- No OTA commissions
- You control your room rates
- You are the only option booking option in Google
- No OTAs bidding on Brand increasing costs
- No OTA sites clogging up your Branded search queries
- Money saved can be used on other marketing channels
- You control the commission paid to Google for bookings
2. Need More Convincing?
In 2015 Premier Inn in the UK dumped all OTAs.
- Bookings from new customers were 40% higher than paid search ads – No OTA bookings from Google
- 300% stronger return on ad spend than non-branded paid search ads
- 60% lower cost per acquisition than non-branded paid search ads
Other Purge Benefits
If the hotel industry was to follow this (thats a big if!) there would be some very surprising benefits for all hotels
1. Google My Business Benefits
With the complete collapse of OTAs and their 9 billion booking revenue hold over Google, Google would have no incentive to restrict hotels google my business listings and the ability to market themselves.
2. Clean Branded Search Results
Hotels will no longer have OTA cluttered branded search results, hotels would actually see their own content in the search results.
3. Hotels Would Once Again Appear in Search Results
With the disappearance of OTAs clogging up search results for high traffic terms (Hotels in London, Hotels in Leicester Square) hotels would actively be able to optimise their sites and have equal opportunity to appear in these search results based on their online marketing efforts.