After we recently published an article on how Google Hotel Ads can help hotels generate more direct bookings, a few readers requested information about … “that area on the right where the hotel is listed”.

Here, we are talking about the so-called Google knowledge card, and its data is pulled directly from the Google My Business service.

“Attract new customers with your free Google listing.

Your listing appears right when people are searching for your business or businesses like yours on Google Search or Maps. Google My Business makes it easy to create and update your listing—so you can stand out, and bring customers in. “

This is the official description, right from Google My Business ’s page, available for all businesses. In particular, Google MyBusiness is the storefront of the hotel.

Img #1: Google My Business for The Jefferson Hotel Washington DC – desktop view

What’s in it for hotels?

Google My Business has been named the hotel’s storefront, and for a reason: it is the first snapshot of information a traveller will see when searching for your hotel.

Regardless whether you are a 5-star hotel or a basic mountain lodge, a property from one of the largest hotel chains or a small, independent “Mom & Pop” 8-room hotel, you have the same tools to best represent yourself in the Google knowledge panel, and to position yourself on Google map.
The Google knowledge panel is the area where all information from the Google My Business is shown (see image above).

A hotel’s knowledge panel contains all the important information about your hotel:

  • Contact & direction details
  • Photos of your hotel, rooms, amenities, submitted by both the business and the visitors. Read more about making the best of your photos in our article here.
  • Prices and availabilities (Google Hotel Ads) direct linking to the booking engine, either on an OTA website, a meta-search engine or, in the best case for the hotel, direct to the hotel’s own booking engine. Even more, Google is testing the “Easy book on Google” feature, which essentially means… that the visitor will not even leave Google’s page.  
  • Reviews – from a large list of providers
  • Questions and answers
  • Alternative choices of similar business – in this case, competing hotels in the area

Google My Business offers even more:

  • This will mark your geo-position on Google maps to highlight your location
  • Rich analytics and insights about traffic generated by your Google My Business
  • The mobile app that will keep you connected and will notify you of how your guests interact with your profile: notifications about new reviews, new images posted, new questions asked, etc

How can Google My Business actually help my business?

Market yourself:

  1. It looks professional!
    Your business, with all the needed information on Google! Your business card! It shows you on a map. It offers the street view, navigation guidelines,  pictures and reviews.
  2. Someone else might be using your business name, and not you:
    It is not new. Someone may have already claimed your  Google My Business place or may be about to do so, and this is a big issue many businesses have. Read more on how to claim ownership of an existing account that you believe to be false.
  3. Guests will look you up here:
    for the phone and address, for finding the website and for looking at your reviews
  4. It helps with SEO:
    Search Engine Optimization is about how easy your online presence can be found in web searches. It is a long, complicated story, but one thing it is sure: Having your Google My Business place will help your website to be found in Google searches, too.
  5. Post promotions, news and events: 
    A relatively new feature, the “Post” section can be used to keep your visitors updated to new events and special promotions available. Posts can be simple news posts, events, products or full-designed promotions with vouchers available and discounts. All are active for seven days, then new posts should be published. 

Personally connect with and interact with your guests

  1. Visitors can post images:
    Guests can post images of your business. The more the better.  People tend to trust visitors images more, as they are seen as being authentic. Use this opportunity and invite your guests to post on your profile.
  2. Reviews:
    Google offers a collection of reviews to your business, sources including the reviews available at OTAs such as Booking and/or Expedia, meta-searches -Tripadvisor and direct reviews on Google.
    Use the Google My Business app to be notified and to reply instantly to your reviews, good or bad.  More about how to approach online reviews and citations
  3. Q&A:
    A special, new section was added recently: Questions and Answers.

By now you know what guests ask most about your property. Prepare this list and post it with with the appropriate answers.

Keep a watchful eye on this section particularly (better install and use the app). Your guests can ask questions all the time, and… IMPORTANT: anybody can answer those questions. Be sure the right answer is provided.

Offer valuable navigation and contact information

  1. Address and navigation guidelines
  2. Mobile call:
    The mobile view offers a button for direct calling your hotel. This is especially handy for guests while travelling who want to get extra information immediately
  3. Street view:
    “I always use the Street View feature of the Google Map to get a feel for the neighbourhood  before travelling to a destination. It is especially helpful to recognize the building, the entrance or to spot parking lots available when driving there ”
    Anna K, business traveller

Fix and update your online presence

  1. Easily update important information such as your phone number, web address URL
  2. Edit inaccurate amenities
  3. Take full control of your hotel’s description
  4. Update your marker for the geo-positioning, if somehow Google placed it wrongly (appearing on the wrong side of the street happens frequently, so here’s your chance to easily redress this)

It makes you Mobile

On mobile, Google Maps is one of the most appreciated apps. Your profile will appear properly when guests are using this app, even if they are using the app in offline mode

Custom analytics

An overview of the Searches, Views and Actions for both Google Search and Google Maps is offered on the Google My Business dashboard.
A special page, “Insights” digs deep into the data and offers information about how your business is found and what type of interactions are preferred by the visitors. Read more about Google My Business Insights here.

How do I create my Google My Business account?

  • It is FREE!
  • Go to Google My Business account from here
  • In 7 very easy steps you will be asked to add your hotel name, address, position on the map and contact information.
  • Verify the account
  • Start using it. Today.

Extra Points

Import Google My Business to your Bing Places for Business (Bing is the web search engine owned and operated by Microsoft)

Download your Google My Business app:

When was the last time you actually checked your Google My Business listing?

I double-dare you to check it right now – and come back here to start taking these simple steps towards dramatically improving your hotel’s online potential. If you have any questions, please post them in the comments below.

I’ll get back to you.

Stay tuned for my next “hands-on” session concerning Google My Business and hotels.

 

Manager Research and Development

With a Master of Science in Online Marketing and an Honours Bachelor in IT applied in Economics, Ecaterina has a long experience in user experience design, SEO and SEM, as well as a strong technical background. Starting her career as a web developer helped her understanding SEO and UX from the bottom up. As a consultant at Venere (an Expedia company) she gained experience in the hotel industry which she has been able to actively utilize and expand on at protel. She truly believes that protel can make a difference in the Travel Industry.

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