A couple of years ago, Google put the fear of, well, Google in the entire travel industry when it enabled Hotel Finder.
Predictions were dire, ranging from radical changes in booking behavior to the collapse of travel aggregation sites. However, little of that actually occurred, and the Kayaks, Expedias and TripAdvisors of the world are doing just fine. In fact, in some instances they’ve diversified their service offerings.
We thought this would be a good time to review what Hotel Finder has really meant to the travel industry.
It should be noted that Hotel Finder has changed nothing about the basic tenants of digital travel marketing. It does not solve for a poor, antiquated non- responsive website. Regardless of what any of the Internet behemoths may roll out, you’ve got to take care of your own house first and invest in a quality, mobile-optimized site.
This means making sure the online user experience meets the same standards as those experiences that occur on property. In fact, Google’s organic search results favor those sites that are well optimized for mobile consumption.
Hotel Finder also does not change the value of a robust and active digital network. Exploring active relationships with relevant influencers allows for a win-win partnership that expands everyone’s reach and access to potential new customers.
Similarly, alignment and digital presence on partner websites, as well as blogs and social media channels, ensures you’re reaching the consumers who may like you as much as your well-aligned partner.
Finally, reviews, which Hotel Finder still doesn’t do as well as others, are an extremely valuable tool in engaging directly with users to engender loyalty that may bypass Hotel Finder in the future.
All that said, Hotel Finder does have some advantages that matter, beginning with the delivery of non-branded hotel sites, which is where a significant number of searches start. In addition, Hotel Finder is clearly not basing its metrics on click-throughs, allowing it to deliver the most desirable information – price – right up front.
So, while travel destinations can’t afford to ignore Hotel Finder entirely, it’s still too early yet to suggest putting all the marketing eggs in just one Google-shaped basket.
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