Have you recently searched Google for a hotel?
If so, you may have noticed the new meta-search functionality on Google Maps.
Google has now launched a service on Google Maps and Google Place on many of their domains in Europe, the Americas and Asia. The new functionality lets users enter their desired arrival and departure dates above the generic search results. It then returns rates and availabilities in real time next to the hotel listing, including drop down boxes displaying rates from various online booking channels along with links.
Ads are usually listed at the top and highlighted as such. Non-paid links to owner sites appear at the bottom.
When looking for a hotel in a particular destination, Google now displays a clickable map on the right-hand side next to the search results taking users straight to Google Maps.
They will then enter their travel dates and decide on a more specific location by zooming into the map. Checking the rates, they will make a selection based on the price they are willing to pay before even clicking on a link and visiting an OTA or hotel website.
In my view, with this new meta-search feature, Google Maps could easily replace OTA websites as well as meta-search travel sites which users have to date used in order to pre-select hotels – also mainly based on location and price.
Hotels and chains can also buy ads that display direct booking links underneath a Google Map search result and so compete with OTA ads within the rate drop down boxes.
It remains to be seen whether Google is just experimenting or whether Google Maps hotel pricing is here to stay.
Some questions should spring to your mind immediately:
1. How can you improve your hotel’s ranking on Google Maps?
2. Should you change your SEO strategy?
3. Could you publish your direct booking rates in Google linking them with your CRS?
4. Should you pay for Google Map ads?