What does Google’s overhaul of hotel booking ads mean?

Last week, Google announced that they will be eliminating fees for hotel booking links, in order to make the booking process easier and more comprehensive for consumers ahead of the expected return of travel post-pandemic. Naturally, it will also demonstrate Google as a highly reliable place to search for bookings, and could help Google compete with a number of travel booking apps and services (many of which may see a huge surge in the coming months).

They have added an organic list to hotel search results that enables properties, online travel agencies and other booking sites to get visibility for free. “With full access to a wider range of hotel prices, users will have a more comprehensive set of options as they research their trip and ultimately decide where to book“.

Before this, hotel booking links in Google.com/travel were paid ads ranked by the traditional advertiser bidding model.

The free booking links will extend the reach of your existing Hotel Ads campaigns. If you are already use Hotel Ads, you don’t need to take any additional action to appear in free booking links.

Below is an example of what a user sees when they initially search for your hotel. All of these links are paid for:

Druids Glen Google maps

When the user clicks ‘view more rates’, they are brought to a page with both the ‘paid’ and ‘free’ links. Below are the paid links:

Google feature

And here is where the free link section sits, right underneath the paid links section:


What else do you need to know?

  • This is currently available on Google Travel and in Google My Business, but not on Google Maps
  • It’s not a replacement for the paid version on Google Hotel Ads, as the knowledge panel on the search results only surfaces paid links
  • If you’re currently live on Google Hotel Ads, the free links are also live
  • Google are not currently providing performance reporting on free links
  • The organic listings are sorted by an algorithm based on user behaviour. Google does not share what goes into that, however, they generally see strong engagement with official sites, so those do tend to show up towards the top of the list
  • Make sure your Google My Business profile is up to date and well maintained! (eg: images, description, amenities, COVID-19 safety information)

If you are a Net Affinity client, we have a direct connection with Google through our metasearch platform!

Need more advice or interested in learning more about how metasearch can help increase your hotel’s direct bookings? Reach out to us at hello@netaffinity.com

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