Google Travel prepares for a post-pandemic future with free hotel listings

Google Search Lifestyle 1
Google Search Lifestyle 1 (Image credit: Chris Wedel / Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Google will now make it free for hotel booking listings to be listed in Search and Travel.
  • Previously, hoteliers had to pay Google for their links to be featured via Hotel ads.
  • Google says it's doing this to help the people connect with the travel industry as countries reopen.

Google today announced a new move geared towards the post-pandemic world. It's now making it free for hotels and travel companies to list their booking links directly from the search results page. Previously, when you searched for hotels in Google, you'd be able to see listings and availability, but direct booking links would only be made available if the company had paid for Hotel Ads. This change will come first on Google Travel.

Richard Holden, Vice President, Product Management, Travel, said in a blog post:

Today's update is part of our larger effort to ensure people have access to all offers available to them by providing free and easy ways for businesses to connect with people on Google. We made it free for partners to participate in Google Flights early last year, and in April we opened our Shopping tab to free listings for online retail. Over time, we'll continue building this open platform, so that all partners will have even more opportunities to highlight their information and help people book a flight, find a place to stay, or explore a new destination.

Dai Williams, chief growth officer at SiteMinder, told the folks over at Skift that Google's move would help enable drive revenue for hotels by making it more cost-effective to enable direct bookings saying:

We know through our data that direct bookings have grown to become one of the top sources of online revenue for hotels globally. In 2020, among hundreds of distribution channels, direct hotel websites produced the second-highest volume of revenue for hotels in markets, such as Spain, Ireland, Portugal, and Australia.

Speaking to PhotcusWire, Holden acknowledged that while Google was losing revenue by making ads unnecessary, the company would also be reaping the benefits by making its Travel product irresistible for consumers due to its comprehensiveness, and for businesses to due to its ease of access, adding:

The bottom line is... the motivation behind this is a user-relevance motivation. The motivation is about trying to make sure we have the most comprehensive information for users. We want people to continue to come back because they get the best results, they trust it because it's objective, and so they get a good experience.

Michael Allison