Internet users are spending more and more time preparing for their trip in advance. In 2022, 40% of leisure travelers say they spend more time and effort planning their trips than before the pandemic (Google / Kantar, The Expectations of the Evolving Traveller, US, UK, DE, FR, ES, IT, 2022).
At the same time, legislators have strengthened international laws regarding the privacy of Internet users, particularly when they visit websites.
Within this new framework, Google’s teams aim to improve the solutions they offer to hoteliers and accommodation professionals, to help them achieve their goals while providing an optimal user experience.
In this article, we take a look at three major innovations of 2023, at Google and in the digital sector in general, and the impact on your digital distribution.
Evolution of internet users tracking (first-party tracking)
To protect the privacy of consumers, web browsers such as Google are gradually stopping tracking web users’ activity using third-party cookies. You must therefore use proprietary or “first-party” tracking to record the activity of your users and accurately track the performance of your advertising campaigns.
What is a third-party cookie?
Third-party cookies are cookies that are placed on a computer or mobile device by a third-party company, i.e. an entity that is separate from the site the user is visiting. Third-party cookies are used to analyze website traffic. They are generally used for advertising purposes.
Example: A user visits the room pages of your hotel website but does not make a reservation. Thanks to third-party cookies, the third-party entity knows the path of this Internet user and can then decide to use this information to display advertising campaigns to them during their future navigation to encourage them to book in your establishment. Even if the traveler closes their browser and terminates the session, this tracking data will remain on their computer.
What is a first-party cookie?
First-party cookies are stored directly by the website (or domain) you are visiting. They allow the website to collect analytics data, remember language settings, and perform other functions necessary for a good user experience.
For example, a first-party cookie may be a user’s login to their account on an e-commerce site. The web browser stores this data file on the user’s computer under the domain “sitename.com”. If the user blocks the first-party cookies, then the user will have to log in every time they visit the site and the shopping cart will be reset after each item added.
At WIHP, in order to continue to provide the best quality service to our customers, we have updated our tracking pixels, especially on our Meta I/O campaign management platform. This ensures that we remain compliant with the latest GDPR laws and updates regarding first-party tracking that will be in effect in January 2024.
We invite you to do the same, on your website, so that you can continue to collect relevant information about your traffic and get an optimal tracking of your digital performance.
You can talk to your digital marketing agency or to your hotel website’s developers / IT team to set it up.
Google Analytics 4
Universal Analytics, the essential tool for monitoring the performance of your website, is living its last hours. Indeed, Google has announced the end of Universal Analytics on July 1st 2023, in favor of Google Analytics 4 (aka GA 4), more powerful.
GA 4 is a more innovative tool than its predecessor and brings several new features:
- Events: The data model is event-based (booking, page click, etc.) and you can track up to 300 events!
- Reports: Customized reports with predictive analysis: access to your data is faster and more detailed, allowing you to make decisions in real time.
- Performance: Google Ads can extract performance data from GA 4, perfect for increasing your performance and conversion rate.
In order to keep a data history, we recommend migrating to Google Analytics 4 as soon as possible so that by July 1, 2023, you already have data collected to compare your performance to.
The migration to Google Analytics 4 requires some technical knowledge in Google tracking tools and their implementation with your online booking engine.
If you need support in this process, we can make this migration for you. I want to implement Google Analytics 4.
Google Performance Max for travel goals
Google launched Performance Max for all advertisers in 2021. This ad format leverages Google’s artificial intelligence to get your ads across all Google platforms – Discover, Gmail, Youtube, Display, Maps and Search.
In early March 2023, Google announced an evolution of Performance Max, specifically for the travel industry: the launch of Performance Max for travel goals, sometime in 2023. These campaigns are designed to help you increase visibility and direct bookings for your hotel across all Google advertising channels.
What is Google Performance Max for travel goals?
In the travel and hospitality industry, you know how important it is to stay on top of the changing online distribution landscape. The goal of Performance Max for travel goals is to increase the number of touch points with travelers during their discovery, consideration and purchase journey.
Performance Max for travel goals is the equivalent of Performance Max, dedicated to the hospitality industry. This type of campaign allows you to be visible on multiple advertising channels and inventories: Google Search, Display, YouTube, Gmail, Discover, Maps and Google Hotel Ads.
It is a powerful tool that uses Google’s machine learning to optimize your ads on all Google surfaces to get more direct bookings.
How does a Google Performance Max for travel goals campaign work?
Launching a Performance Max for travel goals campaign will be possible during 2023. This new ad format is currently only available in beta for Google Hotel Ads integration partners. The activation of Performance Max for travel goals campaigns will be available from our Meta I/O metasearch management platform.
Launching a Performance Max for travel goals campaign is similar to launching a regular Performance Max campaign:
- Fill in your website information (URL), define your target acquisition cost and your budget (here, the CPA is not guaranteed like on Google Hotel Ads).
- Google’s artificial intelligence will automatically create all the ads for you to cover all the available platforms. You can modify them manually if you want.
- You can only run your campaign on all Google platforms or not run it at all.
The connection with the Google Hotel Ads feed will allow Google to dynamically promote your prices. In this context, Google also retrieves data from your Google Business Profile. Therefore, hotel attributes and the content of your Google Business Profile must be up to date.
Finally, Google recommends that you exclude keywords associated with your brand name so that your brand protection campaigns (excluding Performance Max) remain as effective as possible.
Google Performance Max for travel goals is a great tool for hotels looking to reach new prospects more effectively. This type of campaign allows you to gain media coverage, increase your visibility across all Google platforms quickly, in addition to your other automatic or manual campaigns.
With machine learning, multiple ad formats and channels, this powerful solution helps you reach your direct booking goals. Don’t hesitate to try Performance Max for travel goals to increase your ad performance and stay competitive.
As a Google Premier Partner, we work efficiently with Google and will integrate Performance Max for travel goals into Meta I/O, our metasearch management platform so you can manage (or let us manage) all your campaigns easily, from one environment.
A new way to search for a hotel
As summer approaches, Google has launched a new hotel search navigation interface for users. As a hotel, you don’t have to do anything but it’s important to keep up with the latest user news.
Choosing a hotel for travelers is not always easy and requires taking into account many factors such as location, price, accommodation options or user reviews. The search can be very time consuming, especially since we know that the first phase of the search is now mostly done on mobile.
That’s why, in early April 2023, Google launched an easier way to browse and discover hotels on mobile. For example, if a user searches for “Soho London hotels” and clicks on “see more,” they’ll have the new option to explore each establishment as a slideshow (scrolling gallery).
From there, the traveler can browse photos of different hotels and get an idea of what the experience will be like. With a single click, they can also check in to the hotel, get more details about the area or view a summary of what other travelers find remarkable about the property.
This is in line with the change in user experience and the growing use of mobile: 65% of current traffic is on mobile. This new interface is an opportunity to continue to showcase your establishment and reinforces the fact that your hotel photos need to be up to date and of high quality in order for the first impression of your hotel to be the right one.
These three main new features in campaign improvement and performance monitoring will allow you to stay on top of digital marketing in order to remain on top of your competitors and OTAs. Implementing these new settings, tracking tools and advertising campaigns will allow you to support your online sales and achieve your digital objectives while controlling your distribution costs.
We are once again a Google Premier Partner in 2023 and are among the top 3% of digital agencies. This certification and this privileged partnership testify to our Google Ads expertise and allow us to better support you as we benefit from many advantages designed to help your hotel business grow.
Google also recognizes our ability to effectively set up and deliver Google Ads campaigns to achieve the best results for your hotel.
We help you increase your direct bookings with our metasearch technology and digital hotel solutions, contact us!