The Coronavirus pandemic brought with it sweeping, wide-ranging, and impactful local marketing disruptions for all brands, with hospitality one of the hardest hit. In November, while tracking local search metrics in GMB for over 200,000 locations each month to better bring to light the impact of the pandemic, we found that hospitality brands’ metrics were down across the board by double digits.
Search views, search volume, clicks and various types of conversions from local search were all down as consumers were largely unable to travel freely.
Google has worked hard to keep up with rapidly changing local consumer search behavior throughout the pandemic. New features, capabilities, and attributes have rolled out fast and furious over the past year as Google My Business (GMB) sought to help businesses better communicate key local information to customers.
What’s changed for hospitality brands? In this post, we will discuss those key updates to ensure you’re taking advantage of every new feature available. It’s important to know so your brand can take advantage of these enhancements to boost your visibility in local search.
GMB API 4.8 Update Brings 100 New Hospitality Attributes
GMB attributes enable businesses to provide a wide variety of information consumers in that primary category are seeking, and to highlight it on the listing.
The January GMB API update gave hospitality brands 100 new lodging attributes to help searchers understand exactly what to expect in terms of a hotel experience. These include:
- Special interests such as wellness, kids stay free, smoke-free property, all-inclusive available, etc.
- Amenities including pools, elevators, baggage storage, 24-hour room service, free breakfast, table service restaurant, etc.
- Features for business travelers including connectivity, languages spoken, concierge, 24-hour front desk, etc.
Google also released new health and safety attributes to all business categories to display whether staff receive temperature checks, wear masks, etc.
Note: Google has advised that there is currently a known issue with updating hotel attributes via the API and spreadsheets.
Please contact your Rio SEO Account Director if you have any questions.
COVID-19 Responder Policy
This hotel-specific attribute enables you to display that your hotel location offers free or discounted accommodation for COVID-19 responders.
It makes it easier for doctors, nurses, paramedics, and other healthcare professionals to find accommodations when traveling for vaccination clinics and to provide other types of Coronavirus-related support.
Free Hotel Listings
Google has opened up Hotel Booking Links, making what was a paid feature free for hotels to use. Previously offered in Hotel Ads, booking links display real-time pricing and availability to help searchers choose a hotel.
As of early March, hotel booking links are now free of charge and available through google.com/travel.
Google shows us what they look like in the below example:
Google says, “Our testing of this new feature shows that all partner types — from individual hotels to online travel agents — benefit from free booking links through increased booking traffic and user engagement.”
Use this online form to express your interest in the program or, as a client of ours, simply reach out to your Account Director.
Make Sure You’re Taking Advantage of the These Hotel-Specific GMB Features
Set “located in” relations to your hotel: You can list businesses inside the hotel separate and apart from the hotel itself in GMB. Tell Google and searchers that a spa or other independent business operates inside the hotel.
Hotel Highlights: These visually appealing icons call out top amenities at a hotel property on its GMB listing.
Class Ratings: Google displays the hotel’s class rating just beneath the local reviews star rating in the format of a text label, eg.: ‘3-star hotel.’ This is not a field the brand controls; rather, Google draws information from third parties, direct research, feedback from hoteliers, and machine learning inference. If your hotel does not have a class rating or you believe one to be incorrect, please contact your Account Director.
Hotel amenities: Searchers often have common questions about what’s actually available at each hotel location. Does it have a pool? Is the front desk open 24-hours?
Hotels don’t get Posts, and here’s why and what you can do:
- Four Seasons, for example, breaks out its restaurants and spas to additional listings which have access to Posts which is a way these departments can support the brand
- Multiple listing types can create issues where a spa listing is ranking above the actual hotel
- Hotels have a special appearance in search already so they don’t necessarily need posts.
Managing COVID-19 Recovery at Scale in Hospitality
Hotel brands are finding it necessary to find workarounds for GMB updates that must be managed manually and in that case, having an experienced enterprise-level local search partner is essential.
For example, we recently helped a hotel brand with over 7,000 locations manage GMB updates around their temporary closures. It’s important that when and wherever they are searching, consumers have access to the most up-to-date and accurate location information — especially when they’re looking for somewhere to stay.