Late last month Google introduced Place Search – a new local search service that automatically organizes information around places. It is going to have a profound effect on your hotel. Are you ready?
Place Search clusters search results around specific destinations so, as Google says, people "can more easily make comparisons and decide where to go." The key phrase here is, "easily make comparisons."
In the past when someone searched for, say, "New York Hotels," Google would provide a list of the top ranked hotels along with a map showing top ranked ones.
Very cool – especially if your SEO was working and your hotel ranks near the top.
Google has now gone one step further. As you can see in the screen shot below, the New York Marriott Downtown is the #1 ranked NY hotel and appears on the Google Map. Look closely now and you can see Google also shows the hotel has 448 reviews on its "Place page." (Image 1 - top)
When a web searcher clicks on the Place page link they are taken to a single page summary of the Marriott Downtown. There they can see contact information, a web link, photos and details about the property. (Image 2 - middle)
But are you ready for this? Google also provides a snapshot summary of guest reviews from TripAdvisor, Igougo, Zagats, Yelp, Priceline and even Google users. They can easily see what people are saying about your hotel. (Image 3 - bottom)
Instantly a potential guest can compare hotels and decide which ones belong in their consideration set. A couple of clicks and they will be able to find a hotel that best fits their needs – one in the right location in the right price range and the one with the best overall reviews. All this information about your hotel and web searchers don't even have to click to your beautiful, fully optimized website.
There's a good chance that once consumers catch on to Google Place Search they are going to love it. It will save time and just as Google states, "will make comparisons easy."
Having a web site that is fully search engine optimized so your hotel appears on page one for key search phrases will continue to be critically important. But it will not be enough.
To be at the top of a potential guest's consideration set your hotel will need to provide good value and a superior guest experience. It will also need a well thought out plan to get satisfied guests to post positive reviews. So, how effective is your current TripAdvisor strategy?
Google Search and Google Place pages will have a profound impact on your hotel.
Are you ready? Let me know what you think.Madigan Pratt is Managing Director of Madigan Pratt & Associates, Inc., an innovative CRM company dedicated to acquiring and retaining profitable customers for luxury hotels. Prior to founding MP&A in New York two decades ago he held senior management positions overseeing marketing communications for several Fortune 500 companies.