Google Free Booking Link: What You Need to Know

Latest update (17/12/2021): In the recent Travel OnAir Drive direct bookings with Google Episode 5 Webinar, Sanjay Vakil, a senior product manager in Google announced that Google Free Booking Link will be made available on Google Maps and several other Google services early next year (2022)!

When travel resumes in earnest, people would need to find information and contact travel companies online quickly. For many years, Google has helped travellers find the perfect hotel by providing a list of options with reviews, photos, and amenities. In the Hotel Ads, prices and availability for specific dates of travel are shown in real-time. Google Free Booking is one of Google’s efforts to allow for more extensive access for users to see available listings they can book with. 


What is Google Free Booking Link?

Google Free Booking Link are dedicated blocks of links put under Google Hotel Ads in the Google Search Result. Still, it is FREE. They are a new update put forward by Google in March this year. You can read the announcement hereThis recent update was foreshadowed last year with other similar upgrades (Shopping and Flights). It is a new way for hoteliers to reach out to customers on the search engine’s front page. 

How do they work?

Usually, hoteliers would need to pay for Google Ads to appear on the first page of Google Search Result. With this new update, Google is making way for hoteliers to be on the listing for free, see the differences on the prices tab: 

How Google Free Booking Link work-featured options

01_Google FBL and ads link - all options

Before, Google will show 12 slots of ads unit on the front page, but now it is immensely reduced to only 4. The rest (10 slots) are now filled with the top free booking links, followed by an expansion list for the rest of the free booking links.

Who benefits from this? 

The primary receiver for this new system would be for hotels and suppliers. With Google’s extensive reach on users, you would have a new, better way to reach potential customers, be it local or global. (Yes, international. TripAdvisor found that 77% of travellers are more likely to travel internationally if they receive their vaccines 86% for domestic travel).

Unlike Google Ads, you won’t need to worry about pay-per-click fees. It. Is. All. Free. You can also receive more direct bookings from your customers. At the same time, you would have more control over guests’ experience on your site, collecting guests’ data. Continue reading below so you’ll get a more thorough look at Google FBL’s benefits for hoteliers.

Blog - Google Free Booking Link What You Need to Know

For your customers, Google FBL would allow for them to have more comprehensive options when booking hotels. They can view which listings are sponsored/paid and which are entirely organic. Results have shown that online users are up to 70% more likely to click on organic links (Google FBL are all organic links) than sponsored/paid links. 

There’s another party that would be receiving great benefits, which are the advertisers. Google FBL would allow for a streamlined method of enhancing existing advertisement campaigns. Yes, this includes Online Travel Agencies (OTAs). 

 

What Are The Benefits for Us As Hoteliers?

There are numerous advantages to integrating Google Free Booking Links into your website. Listed below are a few of the benefits that we can almost guarantee you'll enjoy when working with Google Free Booking Links (assuming you follow the tips and tricks we've provided!).

Benefits of Google Free Booking Links

  • Increase direct traffic on their website

    • Google Free Booking Links will direct users to your hotel's website or your hotel's booking landing page. This will increase your chances of obtaining more traffic to either one that you are using.
  • Increase hotel direct bookings without paying a high commission to OTA

    • When users book directly through your hotel's website, this essentially means that they are making direct reservations with you, which means that you will not be required to pay commissions to online travel agencies (OTAs). It's also important to remember that Google provides this service completely free of charge. They do not charge any commissions on any of your bookings.
  • Reach a global audience

    • Google is a giant search engine, which covers practically all parts of the world. By utilising this new feature, you will be able to significantly broaden your target audience to include audiences all over the world.

Best Optimal Practices to Google Free Booking Links

Let’s put it: Travelers want relevant, up-to-date, and accurate information to help them plan their vacation. So, help them out! Here are some tips we can offer for you:

Optimal Practices of Google FBL

  • Put forward a user-friendly landing page

    • Make it easy for users to traverse the booking process by finding the pricing they picked and completing the check-out procedure.
    • Ensure your hotel’s website have everything that a good website should need. Read here to learn more about building a more user-friendly website.
  • Retain accurate prices

    • Corrabate that the price displayed in search results matches the price displayed on your booking site.
    • Google may remove inaccurate prices from both free and paid booking links
  • Provide all rates and availability for your hotel list and linked properties to receive more placements

    • All of the hotels
    • Availability and occupancy are 100% guaranteed.

These are all of our suggestions. But here are more tips put forward by Google themselves. Google mentioned this when explaining about Google Free Booking List:

“Hotel free booking links use a variety of signals to determine which links are best to show users. These signals include consumer preference, the value offered to the user, landing page experience, and historical accuracy of the prices provided to Google as measured in our Price Accuracy Policy.”

Technically there are four crucial things to look out for, according to Google

  • Consumer preference

    • a fancy term for “what user is searching for”. If your hotel’s location and listing match what the customer wants, you would more likely be on top.

  • The value offered to the user

    • Basically refers to “is your hotel worth it in customer’s eyes?”. This is where you need to have the best of everything: best service, best price. Put up the best picture you have of your hotel to entice customers.

  • Landing page experience

    • is your hotel website user-friendly? Is it SEO-friendly? 
  • Historical price accuracy

    • if you have a history of inaccurately putting the price on Google, you might not be able to be on the top. 

You need to remember that OTAs would also be able to be on the top. So, you need to provide the best rate for your customers rather than OTAs where they could (and would!) snatch up your big commissions. 

How to Join? What Do I Need to Start?

Here’s the thing. You need pretty much only one thing to join this program.

You only need to register with one of Google’s certified integration partners, which you can find here. If you have already registered with one of the partners, reach out to them and inform them that you want to be a part of the Google FBL.

But, if you haven’t already, you need to become a user of one of the partners. There’s a lot, and Softinn is one of them (Malaysia’s only certified Google-certified integration partner). 

Hey, even so, you still can review all the options. 

Conclusion

A strong emphasis on improving hotel searches on Google enhances user experience and provides advertisers with more campaign optimisation opportunities. Any change to this product represents a new opportunity for hotels and the direct channel to compete with online travel agencies (OTAs) and drive higher traffic.

As a hotelier, it is critical to focus on two things: adding these features to your core business and utilising them to their full potential. Second, to find the best integration partner to assist you in implementing these best practices. We also compiled an eBook titled "A Quick Guide to Google Free Booking Link", which you may download for free here!

You're reading a blog compiled by Softinn. We're a hotel-technology company with the mission to make hotelier work easier. Do subscribe if you enjoy reading our blog or you may interact with us on our Facebook Page.

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