TOP TIPS: Get to grips with Google Now

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Rob Edlin, online marketing specialist, Niddocks Online Marketing and Google partner explains how Google Now will affect your business now and in the future.

Google Now has been available on Android devices since July 2012 and launched on iPhones and iPads in April 2013, in that short period of time people around the world have accepted this useful intelligent personal assistant as a handy addition to their mobile lives.

As hoteliers, you can take advantage of a number of elements of Google Now, and it’s just about to get much easier and accessible to independent hotels too.

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We’re now seeing a constantly connected consumer, people that are “always online” – this makes it much easier to communicate with your audience wherever they are whenever they want you, but with this does come complexity and you need to be putting together a content strategy, a more informed audience profile (the data available to you now is mind-blowing – and free!) and you need to be measuring and optimising all the time to stay ahead of the game. It’s all too easy to dump your entire inventory with an OTA but make 2015 the year that you take control of what is going on and increase profits.

Master the basics
The first step for you is to get the basics of your website build and email communications under control and up to current best practice, as a minimum, your website should be responsive and be built natively for mobile, your marketing, sales and comms emails should be mobile optimised too but specifically we’re seeing Google and the other search engines adopt more support for structured data.

This raises the question of; “what is structured data?” Structured data is something that you need to be very aware of if you are looking to help Google and the search engines learn more about your content as it describes what each element of data is on your website and email comms. You’ll need to speak to your local web developer and/or your digital marketing agency about getting your hotel’s website and email comms updated.

Although it might sound like you’re asking for something in an alien language, implementing structured data is fairly straightforward for a web developer, but there’s a few areas they’ll need pointing to, in the main these are a series of schemas that are used for hotels specifically; Ask them to read up on the below:-
https://developers.google.com/schemas/now/cards
https://developers.google.com/schemas/reference/hotel-reservation
https://developers.google.com/gmail/markup/getting-started
http://schema.org/Hotel

By carrying out the above, you can use Google Now to bring your customer updates about your hotel and their interaction with it, they can get automatic updates on check-in and checkout times, directions, address, options to find out more about their booking and much more (you can choose what you want them to see).

So now we’ve dealt with existing customers, what about people looking for a place to stay whilst they are driving by or in the local area? Well Google Now helps you with that too, you need to make sure that your Google My Business (formally Google Places for Business) listing and Google+ page is up to date and ensure your web developer has implemented the hotel schema above too and that’ll give you a much better chance of showing for places to stay nearby in Google Now too.

With advertising costs and commissions to OTAs and TPIs increasing you need to start to look at some of these low cost ‘organic’ approaches to help you compete and fill your rooms with profitable bookings.

A quick checklist:
• Ask your web developer to implement structured data on your website and email communications.
• Update your Google+ page and Google My Business Listing and link them to and from your website.
• Make sure your website loves mobile devices and your customers love using your site on a mobile device.
• Ensure Google Analytics is installed and working to its full potential on your website and booking system and that all emails are tagged with campaign tracking variables too.
• Regularly monitor usage of your website in analytics and use that invaluable data to change your website and your marketing activities.

Once you’ve got the hotel side of things cracked you can start using Structured Data and Google Now for events and restaurants too.

 

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