Google announced changes to its mobile hotel and flights products that are aligned around one key learning: Users respond to the promise of a deal.
In a gathering for the press at ABC Kitchen in Manhattan, Richard Holden, a Google vice president of travel products, said hotel rates labeled as a “Deal” in the brand’s Google Hotel Ads get about twice as many bookings as rates that aren’t labeled as such.
So in response to a query on mobile for “hotels in Chicago,” Google labels the $169 rate from Secret Escapes for a July 24 stay at the Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel Chicago as a “Deal,” and that it is “36% less than usual.”
That compares to a $218 rate on Booking.com and the hotel website.
The Hotel Deals feature, which is available on mobile and desktop and is not paid advertising, is part of a series of new product tweaks that Google is rolling out in Google Hotel Ads and Google Flights.
Holden said Google automatically identifies rates such as the one from Secret Escapes as a “Deal” when they involve a significant price reduction or are lower than historical prices.
The labeling itself seems to generate an uptick in booking conversions although the actual rates assuredly play a strong role, as well.
“In our early tests, we’ve seen hotels marked as deals receive about twice as many bookings as other hotels,” Google states. “Partners cannot directly add the deal badge and the badge doesn’t affect ranking in search results.”
In the U.S., Google is also introducing Hotel Smart Filters, which enables consumers to filter hotel results based on price or ratings. Hotel Tips, such as “Save $105 if you stay Wed, Jul 13 – Fri, Jul 15,” is getting a phased, global rollout. These tips had already been part of Google Flights.
On the flights front, Google is introducing price tracking for a date and route combinations or to monitor specific flights. Consumers will get notifications via email or Google Now cards.
Holden of Google says nearly half Google Hotel Ads referrals to partners come from smartphones and this is nearly a 2.4x year over year increase.
That increased conversion on mobile for hotel advertising partners hasn’t deterred Google from ramping up Book on Google, which is available to all partners, Holden says. With Book on Google, travelers can complete their reservations on Google, which is not the merchant of record.
For example, travelers can book a September 14 to 16 stay at Exchange Suites in Memphis, Tennessee [see image] without leaving Google on a mobile device. “Book on Google directly with hotel,” Google states. In this instance, travelers enter their guest details on Google, choose a payment method through Google Wallet and then book the room.
In this example, travelers can cancel the booking with the hotel up to 48 hours prior to the stay.
An Exchange Suites spokesperson says Book on Google has been working well for the property since it began trailing the feature May 10. With its furnished apartments, Book on Google has generated 22 bookings worth $3,900 to date “with minimal ad spend,” the spokesperson adds.
Holden says Google is working directly with hotels and also intermediaries to ramp up Book on Google. But so far — unlike Instant Booking on TripAdvisor — you need to do a good deal of searching to find a Book on Google option.