Earlier this year, GCommerce Solutions polled several thousand hoteliers and learned that very few were aware that metasearch advertising campaigns can be managed and optimized similarly to paid search campaigns.
3 things attendees can expect to learn:
How to ensure your metasearch connections allow for strategy and optimization
Bid modifiers and how to use them
How to use custom audience on Google to enhance the targeting capabilities of your metasearch marketing campaigns
Watch the replay by submitting the form below.
Metasearch is one of your best tools for increasing direct traffic and recapturing market share from OTA’s, but only if you’re optimizing your metasearch advertising campaigns.
Learn how to harness the power of metasearch advertising to support your property’s unique needs.
How Hotels Can Best Fight Against OTAs with Paid Search Marketing
Coming out of the pandemic, many hotels are seeing a huge surge in demand, booking and travel interest to their markets. This can be a great thing for many properties that experienced difficulties during the pandemic. However, hotels should be very cautious about how they are acquiring guests and at what cost. Many hotel’s marketing efforts and general customer acquisition were disrupted during the pandemic. Having better control on direct bookings while lowering the cost-per-acquisition for your hotel is going to become very important as demand and markets start to get back to a new normal.
From March through May of 2020 all but a few of our partner hotels discontinued their marketing. This made sense as many hotels were completely shut down, travel was restricted, and demand was at historic lows. As the world began opening, depending on the market, some hotels started to advertise again. But it was difficult to gauge demand, cancellations were regular and spending money on acquiring guests that might not actually stay in the hotel was a difficult decision for many hotels. A worthwhile strategy for many hotels was to decrease their upfront marketing costs while increasing their contribution of bookings from OTAs. This helped mitigate some of the issues with cancellations and with decreased demand, paying commissions on booked rooms helped some hotels stay afloat without having the upfront costs of marketing.
Thankfully, it seems that we are past the worst of the pandemic. Many areas are lifting restrictions, domestic travel is seeing some all-time highs and people are looking to make up for vacations lost to quarantines. So, what about hotel’s that were attaining more guests through OTAs, should they continue that strategy?
Should Your Hotel Continue To Get Guests Through OTAs?
This is a question one of our partner hotels had. This hotel was in a destination market that was incredibly limited due to the pandemic and did not allow normal capacity until May of 2021. During the worst of the shut-downs, they relied heavily on OTA contributions to make up for a lack of demand that impacted their ability to advertise for their hotel. In coming out of the pandemic, they evaluated the costs between running Paid Search Marketing with GCommerce vs paying commissions to OTAs. Their findings are based on a few assumptions:
We know that we bid for pay-per-click (PPC) against the OTAs for our name on Google.
We can take the Room Nights (RNs) and Revenue from Jan. 2020 and deduct the commission at the approximate commission rate to see how much OTA commission the hotel might pay.
We can then assume different percentages of sales that might come from PPC. If 20% of the sales are derived from the OTAs display of our name on Google, then paying $1,000 per month to GCommerce for the PPC Marketing is much more profitable for this hotel than paying commissions.
Even if we were to assume only 5% of OTA sales are derived from PPC, the hotel would still come out ahead by several hundred dollars:
Save Thousands of Dollars per Month with Paid Search Marketing for Hotels
As you can see above, this hotel is likely saving thousands of dollars each month by advertising on Paid Search Marketing. With a budget of less than $1,000 per month, GCommerce Solutions can capture a significant share of the Impressions for this hotel’s brand terms. That drives thousands of clicks directly to the website instead of to an OTA. By capturing just 1/5th of the people that were previously booking through an OTA, this hotel could be saving over $6,000 each month. That is budget that could go towards other initiatives for the hotel rather than in commissions to an OTA, not to mention all of the other benefits that come with someone booking direct (loyalty, membership programs, email/1st party data, etc.)
How Can Your Hotel Calculate If Paid Search Is A Better Return Than OTA Commissions?
By using this methodology, your hotel can take a sampling of room nights and revenue and then use the commission from OTAs to calculate how much that fee would be. Download our free template above and simply input:
Room Nights into cells C5 and C7
Revenue into cells D5 and D7
OTA Commission into C2
PPC Budget into F2
The Savings calculated in F9 will be your hotel’s monthly savings by getting direct bookings from Paid Search rather than from OTA contributions.
Contact GCommerce Solutions Today To Lower Your Hotel’s Cost-per-Acquisition
If you’re ready to start running paid search marketing for your hotel in order to lower your cost-per-acquisition and take back commissions currently being paid to OTAs, contact us today!
How GCommerce's Programmatic Bidding Strategies Benefit Our Hotel Clients
If there is one thing that is absolute in the hospitality internet marketing world, it’s that we must constantly be testing, analyzing, implementing changes (or not) based on test data, and testing some more.
GCommerce utilizes programmatic bid optimization for paid search marketing, which is now a must in a world of constant changes and bid management. Programmatic bidding allows bid adjustments throughout the day and uses data based on previous days data. For an individual to be able to delve into the performance and history of a specific keyword would take hours to be able to optimize an account of 100+ keywords, multiply this by 10 or more clients a day and there is now no time for other important client optimizations.
Programmatic bidding is not just a set-and-forget machine learning tool. If you use programmatic bid optimization you must make sure that you are making the most of it and getting the best results possible for clients. How do you do this? Test. Analyze. Implement (or not). Test Again.
Earlier this year, I ran a test on a sample of clients using a different bid strategy model to see if client performance could benefit from it. It wasn’t that the current automated bid strategy wasn’t working, it was based on the idea that we always want to improve our results, therefore we test different theories and strategies.
This particular test yielded some pretty significant results:
Due to the seasonality of our clients, the best data to gather is to compare year over year with a significant amount of time. Using a date range of 6 months of data, here is what we found:
Average CPC’s increased 1%
Reservations increased 89%
Revenue increased 100%
When comparing to GCommerce’s entire hospitality paid search marketing portfolio, here is what we found:
Average CPC’s increased at a much lower rate
Reservations increased at a much higher rate
Revenue also increased at a much higher rate
Rising CPC’s are a constant battle in the paid search marketing world. At GCommerce Solutions, our hospitality internet marketing teams are constantly optimizing paid search campaigns to help decrease this metric as best as we can. After reviewing performance across GCommerce’s entire portfolio, I found that, on average, GCommerce clients experienced an increase of 4% in average CPC’s during the same time period. This leads to a conclusion that our clients and the hotel industry continue to see ever-increasing rise in CPC’s across the board in order to compete in the SERP. But the fact that we have been able to slow it down while ramping up reservations and revenue is a huge win.
After pulling all of the data and seeing such clear results, it was obvious that it was in our clients’ best interest to switch gears on our overall strategy to best reach our KPI (key performance indicator) goals and maximize their spend. So we did.
How Much Should I Spend on Paid Search for my Hotel?
We get this question all the time from prospective clients and new clients and it’s also something we revisit at least once (or more) every year for current clients. The truth is, there’s a lot more to it than picking a number based on the hotel’s location. It’s a complex answer that can only be determined by deep discovery and understanding of the hotel and its goals, the market the property is located within and historical data from the hotel. At GCommerce, every client’s budget recommendations are customized based on the hotel’s specific goals, historical performance and competitive landscape coupled with data from tools provided by Google, Bing and Doubleclick Ad Services.
7 Key Steps to Determining Paid Search Budget Recommendations for your Hotel
Hotel Discovery & Determining Competitive Advantages - this guides our keyword research which helps us determine the estimated cost per click for qualified keywords. We seek answers to questions such as, What adjectives describe the hotel? What are the nearby attractions that drive visitors to the market? What are the top business drivers for the hotel? What are the hotel’s top competitors? What special amenities, services or events does the hotel support? Then we utilize keyword planner tools from Google and Bing to determine keyword CPC and traffic estimates.
Establish business goals - we work closely with the client to determine their top priorities. Do they have a revenue goal they need to achieve? Does the client want to focus on driving more wedding or meeting business? Are they competing with OTAs to capture reservations? What are some of their biggest challenges and how might paid search help them overcome those hurdles?
Complete Competitive Research - paid search pay per click costs are based on a bidding model. Competitive research factors in how many other advertisers are bidding on the same keywords, whether or not other advertisers are bidding on your brand name and also provides an understanding of highly valuable keywords we should be including in our campaigns.
Analyze Historical Performance - the best way to estimate how specific budget recommendations will impact your bottom line or other business goals is to understand historical performance. GCommerce deep dives into website data, looking back multiple years, to gain insight into traffic, production, conversions, seasonality and other performance trends by month.
Market Research - where is the hotel located? does the market experience any seasonality? We gather information from the client directly and utilize Google Trends to follow keyword popularity trends over time. It is important to allocate budgets as it correlates to business goals and seasonality in the market.
Future Predictions - with a solid understanding of the hotel’s market and their previous performance, we can predict with a degree of confidence how much a specific budget might impact a hotel’s paid search marketing efforts. If they previously spent $Y and saw a return of $X, what kind of results would we expect if we increased or decreased their budget? Using this predictive modeling, we can find the optimal budget to ensure each has a healthy budget that reflects a positive Return On Ad Spend within their stated goals.
Finalization of Target Keywords and Presentation to Client - last, we will prioritize these keywords based on relative competition, traffic, and the hotel’s goals. We will work closely with the client to ensure that all keywords are relevant to their business and end goals. Organizing these keywords into the most relevant Adgroups based on what is most likely to convert provides us with the best opportunity for success in starting with a new budget.
At GCommerce, we believe in a customized approach for every client. This is true for all aspects of the overall marketing strategy and is how we approach each client’s budget recommendations. We utilize the vast amount of historical data and experience we have from working with clients in markets all over the country and combine that with a custom analysis to provide the best hotel paid search budget recommendations possible.
If you’re interested in learning what you should spend on paid search for your hotel, please reach out to your Account Executive or Account Manager today. Not a GCommerce client? Not a problem. Contact us and we can help you get started with strategic paid search marketing solutions today!
AUDIENCE TARGETING AND ITS INTRODUCTION TO SEARCH ENGINE MARKETING: As advertisers, we have the option to add specific audience targeting to paid search marketing campaigns. Google’s audience targeting was originally only available on display networks and YouTube campaigns, but in May 2017, Google expanded audience targeting to its paid search ad network. For advertisers in the hospitality industry, the in-market audience targeting options include demographics, such as age and gender.
AUDIENCE TARGETING FOR HOSPITALITY PPC: Age plays a vital part in marketing for the hotel and hospitality industry. The legal age to book a hotel room in the U.S. is 18 years old, but many hotels have the option to limit the booking age to guests who are 21 years and older. When evaluating previous traffic and booking behavior, we noticed a higher ratio of spending to revenue in people under the age of 25. Based on this information, we decided to focus our audience targeting for men and women above the age of 24. Currently, there are two different options for including audience targeting for hotels:
Focusing on specific demographics
Remarketing to the hotel’s returning guests
We focus on a few different types of remarketing. One type of remarketing is website targeting, which delivers ads to people who previously visited your website. Another form of remarketing through Google AdWords is audience retargeting to the hotel’s email distribution list. This is called Google AdWords Customer Match and includes any customer who stayed at the hotel or signed up for a newsletter. Targeting an audience that focuses on specific demographics requires an extensive knowledge of the property and the demographic groups that have the highest conversion rates. Google Analytics will track the conversions and separate each demographic group, based on age, gender, income, or location. Based on the information that we gathered for this hotel, we determined it would be most effective to target age demographics for our audiences.
THE LENOX HOTEL RESULTS: Our team at GCommerce Solutions ran a test for using audience demographic targeting within PPC campaigns for The Lenox Hotel in the Back Bay area of Boston. We completed the following bid adjustments:
Added negative bid adjustments of 90% to their audiences that had the lowest conversion rates (18-24 year-olds not searching for Name Terms)
Added positive bid adjustments of 25% to their audiences that had the highest conversion rates (45-54 and 55-65).
Our study includes data from June 11, 2017- July 20, 2017, compared to July 21, 2017-August 29, 2017. With changes in demographic targeting, we were able to better control our budget with a 5% decrease in cost per click and 7% decrease in total cost, while capturing a 4% increase in revenue for the property. The results of this test conclude that utilizing age/ demographic bid adjustments is a more accurate way to target the most qualified audience for this hotel, and allows us to increase our overall Return On Ad Spend. GCommerce recommends tracking data at the audience level to understand performance before implementing any bid adjustments. Specific adjustments and test parameters should be unique for your hotel, based on historical data. Please contact us if you have any questions about audience targeting and how you can better utilize this feature to improve performance.
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