As president of Acorn Internet Services, and most recently as the technical lead for the #bookdirect team, I have been searching for years to find a cost effective option for innkeepers to utilize the Google Hotel Finder program. This program can help manage your OTA costs by driving more direct bookings, while remaining competitive in Google local maps on both desktop and mobile.
Google Hotel Finder was released 8 years ago, but it was virtually impossible for a small independent property to participate due to access issues and pricing.
As Google refined this product, they began to grow their list of approved partners, who would be able to work with lodging properties to provide inventory, that would then be displayed in Google’s local and maps listings.
Many of these partners are guest management systems (GMS), which are typically much more expensive than those in our Bed and Breakfast niche. Companies like Sabre and TravelClick will provide you a feed to Google Hotel Finder as part of their software, but most inns are unable to afford these more expensive companies.
In addition to these booking products, you may have heard of a company called Jackrabbit. Jackrabbit was recently acquired by Simpleview. Jackrabbit has a variety of program options. One of these options provides associations the ability to pull each of the member inns' availability and display it live. This results page is designed to look like your association site but resides on the Jackrabbit servers. We've listed a few examples below:
Jackrabbit also offers individual inns the ability to pass their booking data to Google Hotel Finder. This service has been available for many, many years.
"White Stone Marketing has been signing clients up on the program since June 1, 2017 under the prior arrangement with JackRabbit where there was an original $5000 buy in." - Allison Crumpton, White Stone Marketing
Over time this option has become more affordable for smaller individual properties.
Most recently JackRabbit has connected these two options for use by state associations to help their individual inns connect to Google Hotel Finder.
All great news. But let’s go one step further.
Google Hotel Finder announced on 07/11/2018 they were going to allow GHF pay-per-click costs to be managed via Google Ads (previously google AdWords), but as of yet, this option has not been fully implemented. In March of this year Acorn worked with JackRabbit to see if our innkeepers would be able to use a blended solution between JackRabbit to feed GHF inventory, and have the Innkeeper manage the PPC spend via Google Ads. At the time, this option didn’t work as advertised. More changes in the Google API were needed.
Google had a July 9th delivery date to have the GHF and AdWords API merged. But that date has been moved to August 9th. So at this point we are in a holding pattern until the APIs are merged. At which point we will be able to test this option and announce it to the industry for use.
Are you an a individual inn that wants to learn more about how Google Hotel Finder can help you drive more direct bookings?
If so, we invite you to register for our Free-For-All webinar on Wednesday July 31st at 9am Pacific, 10am Mountain, 11am Central, Noon Eastern.
Are you an association leader that wants to learn more about how your association can use JackRabbit's products in conjunction with your current website? If so, please watch your email for an invitation email to join us as we present to all association leaders these options.