Google Hotel Finder Moves to Dominate Metasearch

Google Hotel Finder Moves to Dominate Metasearch

Google’s Quiet Moves to Dominate Hotel Metasearch – Skift.

Summary of Whats new in 2015

1. A few things have been dropped from the 2011 Hotel Finder beta.

a. The ability to define a may area (with a mouse or touch) is gone. With it users could draw a circle, square or any rectangular shape on the map as a catchment area. All hotels in that area will then be listed under the map and highlighted on the map. It was an impressive technology feature but probably not all that exciting for the average user.

b. Google hotel content is gone, so to has Google’s own reviews. This indicates, I think, that Google is moving away from being a full service provider at this time. This is good news for advertisers and especially the Online Travel Agents.

2. The new Hotel Finder now links direct to hotels that are listed in Finder. It also shows costs for the various OTA vendors of the property. Hotels website are also linked in the OTA price list, they are at the very bottom of the list. Previously Google linked to the OTAs and the hotel link was to Googles own version of the hotel site. The change is a significant advantage for hotels.

3. The Hotel Finder list is short – 7 to 10 properties are listed. Google is selecting hotels that it ranks as authority sites. That is they are mapped, have good SEO and page authority. They are listed in local destination sites like and cited in directories like yelp.

Google has made some significant changes to its hotel finder listings. The details are covered in the video below. in summary herre are the key points

How to get listed on Hotel Finder

Several companies are springing up to help local hotels get listed. Unfortunately the space is very restricted and not everyone will succeed. Our guess is that Hotel Finder will become a new standard for all of Google Search result, but that may take years to roll out. It is vital that hotels start to understand what it takes to rank on google and plan for it now. When you look at who is on Hotel Finder you get an idea of what it takes. We have a video on that but in a nutshell: Hotels that make it to finder or the first page of search results have quality content, use rich media, have social proof, have relevant quality backlinks and a site that people like.

The Trouble with Search Ranking

Hotels will still have difficultly in getting on the first page of search results for several reasons, most importantly they don’t have the content of OTAS who Google favours. OTAs have very fined tunes SEO strategies, good social engagement and all of the factors that create authority on search engines, they are also huge advertising partners with search engines. For more see the YouTube Video.

Still small hotels can get be on the first page of results as we have shown. Hotels should move to get onto hotel Finder now. Space is limited and first in line do get a preference. What you do to get onto this spot will boost your search engine marketing, SEO success and organic listing well into the future.

Hotel Advertising Made Easier

At the same time as rolling out the new Finder, Google has made changes to its hotel adverting package, making it easier for browsers to click to hotel advertisers. Advertising is one way to get on top of the page. With the new pack Google has put Hotel Ads further up the page giving them far greater exposure and streamlined process.

Nicholas Ward, president of Koddi, sums it up as:

The old way:

Click the ad
View the hotel list on Google Hotel Finder
Click on a hotel selection
Click a Hotel Ad to navigate to the partner booking site

The streamlined process is:

Select the hotel
Click a Hotel ad

Romain Roulleau, senior vice president, ecommerce, at Accor Hotels notes: “I would say for everyone, the two leaders [in Europe] are Trivago and TripAdvisor,” says hotels. “That’s obvious. One of the fastest growing is Google Hotel Price Ads and Google Hotel Finder, especially with the way they are now putting more of the display in the Google search engine.”

The Biggest media player is Google:

Major online travel agencies have invested billions of dollars in TV advertising over the past few years. Now Google is offering a alternative that could erode their position, and it is doing it without TV advertising. “Google, after all, has something the meta-search players and online travel agencies don’t have — it has prime placement on Google.”… Romain Roulleau. The infograph is not included in the Skiff article that propted this review, but it will help you when reading the discussion on the Google Hotel Ads Pack.

How Paid Ads Supersede Hotel Finder

The InfoGraphics (below) is helpful in understanding the importance of Hotel Finder in search. Hotel Ads, however, don’t rely on the Finder as they used to. Paid Ads now link direct to the advertiser.

The Evolution of Google Travel

The Evolution of Google Travel

As a person deeply involved in helping hotels, tourism operators and destinations build lasting brands and sustainable direct business since 1995, and before that as a hotel manager way back in the sixties, I have been around to see all that has happened.  It started well with search engines long before Google. All search engines were listing local hotels, destination authority sites and tourism operators in their search results. That’s what was happening when we started the Barbados Tourism Encyclopedia as the official site of the Barbados Tourism Authority.

Our clients of hoteliers and TO’s got direct requests daily in emails from people who first found them on search, where our destination portal was usually on the first page. They contacted the hotels, restaurants and activities etc. that were listed on our directory.  Later we added a direct booking engine and direct-bookings were flowing in to our partners.  Our site,, had 4 million unique visitors a year, not a lot by OTA standards, but a lot for a small island of just a couple of hundred hotels and a few thousand rooms.  It’s a top destination in the Caribbean and it does have some of the best hotels in the world, for example Sandy Lane and The Crane to name just two.

First Page Listings on Search Results were Key to Direct Bookings

Getting into the first page of search results was great for sustainable business that added to the bottom line and built brand awareness even for the smallest of companies. Well it has all changed. Aaron Harris in the video below on the current state of SEO, shows how Google organic (non advertising) results are seen on only 7% of the results screens. A far cry from the early days of Search Engine Marketing.

Search Shifts will Cause Many Small TOs to Fail

The shift caused many companies to fold as their source of business, based almost entirely on SEO, failed.  Aaron’s company Tutorspree bit the dust and as he says it was all to do with the shifting sands of search.  “In examining our SEO dependence, I was surprised at how deeply it influenced so many different pieces of the company and aspects of our strategy. It powered a huge piece of our success, and ultimately triggered our failure. There’s a symmetry there that I can’t help but appreciate, even though I wish to hell it had been otherwise.”

Survive by Adapting

But companies have survived by adapting and expanding their role. It’s not enough to be on search and today there are many, many more ways to influence and engage clients. As Mike Keonigs of Traffic Geyser likes to say, it’s now about “You Everywhere”. But that is another story and I will share all with you in upcoming blogs. For now, let’s understand the principle of how Google has changed and what Google Travel means to all of us in the hospitality and tourism marketing business.

What You Can do in the Face of Losing Search Position

Start to build your authority today; it’s what all hospitality and travel professionals now need to do to get their websites ranked and seen by searchers. Most importantly, start to build alternative traffic strategies with no search engines as we teach in >>>See MHAT blog on Search, and take advantage of our free case studies and tutorials at (link on top menu). And as video is very hot on mobile right now, be sure your website is mobile ready – see our – all free tips, resources and strategies to build a better multi-screen, multi-channel presence. Last but not least, be aware that the future of travel is visual and check out our links on visual travel marketing and the new Visual Booking Engines.

Tourism marketing is changing faster than you can think. Keep tuned to this site for the latest tips, news and strategies for success.

The video below tells the story of search evolving into a new media of a totally unprecedented and different flavor from anything we have known. For those who want to know the history of search before this stage, see the blog on search evolution at TravelWatchNews.

See press Release about this blog on

More – see what you can do about thisHow to get back in the game when you fall to get on page 1 of of search results.

This blog has touched a never and is covered extensively in the media. You can see our press release here: