Recent research by Google and Temasek found that Thailand’s internet economy was worth USD18 billion in 2020 and could grow further by 25 percent annually.
In a competitive hotel landscape, hoteliers need to leverage all available tools at their disposal to amplify their online presence. Optimising the Google ecosystem is key, helping build brand awareness and drive direct bookings.
Thailand has historically been slow to recognise the potential of digital adoption with a study in 2020 finding that only 33% of businesses were embracing digital transformation and planning to invest for the future compared to the global average of 59%. However, for those that do, the projected rewards are promising. Recent research by Google and Temasek found that Thailand’s internet economy was worth USD18 billion in 2020 and could grow further by 25 percent annually to reach USD53 billion by 2025. Keen to support this projected rate of expansion, Google’s suite of products to support digital transformation- including Google Search, Google Ads, and Google Maps – are expected to derive THB144.5 billion (USD4.8 billion) in annual economic benefits for Thai businesses, with the largest economic beneficiary of digital transformation being the consumer, retail and hospitality sector.
While the Google landscape can sometimes seem bewildering and ever-changing, there are three key Google tools available to proactive hoteliers to ensure you get the most out of your online presence. These tools help to understand demand, make your digital presence a priority, and drive more free bookings to your site, all of which can help you transform awareness and interest in your property.
Key to any sales and marketing activity is understanding your customer – where they come from and where they are looking to go. Google offers two tools that hoteliers can leverage to better understand search volume and trends.
The first is ‘Google Trends‘, a website that monitors top search queries in Google Search across various regions and languages. Established in 2006, it has long been the go-to tool for those looking to understand search patterns and potential demand.
However, Google has recently added to its suite of products to support hoteliers with Hotel Insights with Google launched last year. This has been designed to help all properties, but especially small and independent hotels, understand where demand for their region is coming from and get tools, advice, and tips for building a strong online presence. It’s a must for those serious about establishing demand trends and patterns and looking to adapt their strategies accordingly.
Hoteliers can find out more about ‘Hotel Insights with Google’ at https://hotelinsights.withgoogle.com
Make Digital Presence a Priority
Google Business Profile helps travel business owners manage their business information and interaction with potential customers across Google Search and Google Maps. User expectations when looking to make an online purchase are high with 50% of online travel purchases abandoned due to lack of information. It’s critical that your business is represented in the best possible light online. Google Business Profile showcases all key property information to those who have searched for your hotel at a point in their trip planning where their propensity to book is at its highest. Information must be kept up to date to optimise chances of conversion.
Aside from the standard business details relating to your property that need to be current and accurate, some areas warrant special attention. Google Reviews, as with all online guest feedback, is key to managing your online reputation and reviews need to be responded to in a timely fashion. The ‘Attributes’ section of your Google Business Profile is an easy way to showcase your facilities and amenities – and according to Google, 29% of customers are more likely to consider purchasing from a business with a detailed profile. Imagery should be high quality and showcase all areas of your property. Content is key on your Google Business Profile so ensure information is complete and regularly reviewed for accuracy.
One additional area worth mentioning is the recent addition of ‘Eco Attributes‘, allowing you to showcase your commitment to sustainability. With more and more travellers looking to make more sustainable travel choices, evidence of commitment to efficient energy management, water conservation or waste reduction can help gain an ‘Eco’ certification. Demonstrating that your business is ‘eco-certified’ can help secure that booking.
Google Business Profile can be activated and managed at www.google.com/business. If you haven’t signed up already, do so now so you can take control of your Google presence.
Drive more free bookings
In March 2021, Google launched ‘Google Free Booking Links’, a way for hoteliers to compete with third parties for bookings and enhance their direct booking strategy free of charge. When a guest searches for an area or your specific hotel on Google they will see your hotel listed and can view more details in the hotel listings area. Along with hotel details are live rates and a clear link to your hotel’s booking engine. This enhanced visibility will ultimately provide the potential booker with more information and deliver an increased appetite to book. And as a hotelier, you increase your online brand presence, and can generate more traffic to your booking engine at no additional cost.
To support this initiative, Guestline launched their integration with Google in March 2022, meaning hoteliers using the Guestline Booking Engine (Direct Booking Manager DBM) can benefit from Google Free Booking Links to support their direct booking strategy. In addition to a Guestline DBM, hotels need to also have an active Google Business Profile.
Guestline clients who are now using Google’s Free Booking Links have seen a 50% increase in direct traffic to their Direct Booking Manager, resulting in a 10% increase in direct bookings and a 205% ROI. Google is shaking up the online travel market with their innovative new tools. These products are ideal for hoteliers looking for ways to drive direct business and reduce OTA commissions. The opportunities in the APAC market are immense, and I’m excited about bringing this successful partnership to the region to showcase how powerful the tools can be for your business.
Find out more about you can benefit from Google Free Booking Links https://www.guestline.com/google/.
To find out more about how Guestline and Google partnership, and how Guestline can support your online presence, come and meet us at the upcoming Food and Hospitality Thailand Exhibition, Queen Sirikit National Convention Centre, Bangkok on 21-24 September. More details HERE.
Matthew Emptage is the country manager for Thailand at Guestline . Matthew was involved in several IT-based roles after graduating from university in 2006 before joining Guestline back in 2012 as a 2nd line support engineer. Over the last 10 years, Matthew has gained extensive experience in Thai hospitality and the Guestline portfolio.