There has been a lot of buzz recently about Online Travel Agency (OTA) pricing appearing on Google Maps. At least one vendor has introduced a related pay-per-click advertising product and the resulting PR campaign seems to have stirred up quite a commotion.
The truth is this is not a significant issue for hotels. Here are the reasons why an individual property should not spend any time worrying about this.
1. This is Not New!
Google introduced the Pay-Per-Click pricing ads on Maps in March of 2010. It has existed for a year without negatively impacting your business. Why would it be any different now?
2. Google Maps Impressions Are Very Low
Local search is important, very important. Google Maps plays a part in local search but only a small part. When Google returns local listings in their main search engine results they display a Places listing. These Places listings do not carry the OTA pricing ads.
Google Places listings do not include OTA pricing advertising
Instead, the OTA pricing ads only appear on the Google Maps listings. These results are displayed only when someone is searching within the Maps section of Google. From our portfolio of hotels, we see that maps on average represents only 2% of search traffic.
Google Maps listing with OTA pricing ads
3. Your Website is Already Listed
Finally, within the drop-down list that appears on the Google Maps listing, the property website always appears alongside the OTA’s. It is listed last and a price is not displayed, but your property does appear.
The hotel website is included with the OTA pricing ads
Because of the extent to which they dominate search, anything Google does is worth paying attention to. This hotel specific Pay-Per-Click advertising program is no exception. It will be interesting to see how it evolves in the future, but for the time being don’t lose any sleep.