Much is changing in the way hotels advertise in the digital sphere. Whether it be launching on new platforms that brands previously had not considered, to the adoption of new technology pushed by Google, there is a dizzying array of advertising options available at present for hotels. Whilst campaigns are becoming more complex in their targeting, aided by new user-centric data that GA4 generates, the key features of an effective and successful hotel ad remain relatively unchanged; appealing visuals, creative storytelling, and provocative ad copy that includes a direct call to action.
In previous years, Google’s doctrine for new adverts involved pursuing a click or impression-based bid strategy, thus maximising awareness to prospective customers. This was ideal for hotels that wanted to build awareness, however, the scattergun approach to audience targeting often meant that a campaign would take a while to deliver to its intended target audience – spending considerable sums to begin with. As Google now prioritises campaigns that have a bid strategy focused on conversion and conversion value, those that are geared solely towards clicks are less likely to feature as prominently. It is therefore highly important that hotels pursue an advertising strategy based on conversions, rather than impressions.
Hotels that have supplied us with high-quality image assets to be added as direct ad extensions perform far better on key metrics such as CTR than those that do not have these assets. In order for a hotel to be able to compete effectively against OTAs (which almost always have image assets added to their adverts), up-to-date images of the hotel are essential for creating an engaging ad. Hotels often prioritise shots that show the outside of the property or focus heavily on product offerings. We have found that lifestyle assets perform overwhelmingly better, where the visual appeal of the hotel was expected to be the revenue generator. Regular lifestyle photo refreshes, therefore, help any hotel advert, and changing the images up on a scheduled basis works to mitigate against any audience fatigue.
Finally, the magic of Google’s new Performance Max Campaigns specifically targeted for travel has been demonstrably proven with some of our clients. The combination of image, video, and creative copy seems to be a winning formula when spread across Google’s many millions of partner websites. One of our campaigns generated an ad return of 565:1 in its first few days of running! These are likely the future of effective hotel advertising with Google, where a high-quality video asset allows a campaign to be weighted primarily around a YouTube campaign. This reflects the wider industry’s “Tik-Tokification”, where short videos are being proven as far more effective at storytelling and conveying information than good ad copy or a rotating image carousel. Being able to target active in-market segments such as “trips to London” greatly improves the ad relevance, whilst being very cost-effective in terms of CPA. The considerable benefit of P.Max campaigns is that any revenue generated can be treated as a “bonus”, given the targeted audience is neither in the consideration nor awareness stage of the hotel’s booking funnel.