The Google free feed is now available world-wide but it is also available for OTAs and big review sites. To maximise Google free bookings you must be at the top of the free feed….
Firstly the free feed ranking is a Google secret (but it’s easy to get to the top of it). What we do know is that Google will order the free feed to satisfy their user, that is the many millions visiting Google to check out accommodation. We also know that the free feed is independent of money paid so every accommodation owner has the same opportunity as a multi-billion dollar OTA. This has never happened before and is brilliant news for direct bookings…
Google users (just like most of us)
- Want to see the direct feed “official site” at the top
- Want to see the best price at the top
- Want the best availability at the top
For the first time ever this gives property owners a distinct advantage (over OTAs) if they connect availability directly with their booking system.
It is most important that you make sure you have the best rates and availability direct. This comes with a warning, if you offer OTAs or review sites a better deal they will most likely go to the top of the Google free feed.
The top position in the Google free feed is as simple as this …
- Have the best rate direct
- Have the best availability direct
- Do not accept OTAs/Review sites undercutting your direct rate
In this simplicity, there is amongst the suspicious of us, a feeling of fear – can it really be this simple? Clearly Google want to satisfy their customers and make Google the best place to come for accommodation booking AND we know the customer wants the best price and availability. The Google free feed is an elegant solution to provide what the customer wants, but there is an elephant in the room. How much will it cost Google in lost advertising (mostly from OTAs and Review sites)
The question the future will determine is, how much is Google willing to pay in lost advertising revenue to make Google the best place to get the best deal? The answer right now is indirect, there is simply no company better able to make this calculation profitably. Google knows exactly how to do these type of numbers and knows how to provide great search. Great search for Google now includes availability, prices, location, reviews, descriptions, comparison and booking. They also have what only Google has, vast user data and smart suggestions.
If the Google free feed continues it is likely that the future battle over the best price – the “price parity” vs. “rate fixing” argument – is going to be settled by Google de facto rather than in law where it has failed to provide the customer the best deal. Before the free feed the OTAs could pay to get their higher prices at the top of the list, not on the free feed they can’t… Bookings and customers will naturally flow to where they can get the best deal and Google wants it to be them.
One can’t help but wonder if this is the beginning of the end of OTAs and other meta review sites. They are starting to feel like second class places to go to book accommodation and that is, and must be, Google’s primary intention.. make it better than the OTAs and they will come…
The Google free feed changes everything in meta because it is genuinely better than anything else and that must put the fear in the rest.
Find out how to get listed on Google free feed – earlier blog..