How to make a very successful hotel Adwords campaign?

After a very long debate with a hotelier about the importance of Adwords to counter BrandJacking, I thought it was time to write an article about the best way to manage your Adwords campaigns.

BrandJacking… What’s that about?

For several years now, everyone has been hearing about BrandJacking. Most of you already know what this is all about. For others, here is a simple definition:

Definition: An OTA (Online Travel Agent) buying keyword campaigns based on the hotel’s own brand and attempting to divert Internet users who are directly searching for that hotel on the Web.

The basic technique to avoid BrandJacking is to register your hotel name as a trademark. It works very well but does not entirely solve the problem. Firstly, making a deposit at the INPI will only protect you on Google.fr: you must therefore repeat this costly procedure for each country where you wish to be protected. Secondly, not all spelling variations used by Internet users to find you will be covered.

It is therefore imperative to couple a trademark registration with an Adwords campaign to protect your brand.

Hotel rooftop

Two different jobs

Don’t think anyone who knows about Adwords will know about Brandjacking.

Most of the time, Adwords are used to find new clients. In the hotel industry, however, Internet users are using Google less and less to search for new hotels. They use Google to FIND a hotel they have previously selected on their favorite OTAs.

You should therefore not choose an Adwords Agency that is used to managing campaigns in all areas. Above all, the agency selected must be an agency that specializes in the hospitality industry, an agency that understands that it is OTA that brings you new customers, not Google.

Example of Adwords ads

Ad: the Adwords ad is the advertisement that appears on a Google results page. On the search engine, the ads appear above and to the right of the natural results.

Your ads are there to compete with the OTAs trying to do Brandjacking. When you work on them, assume that your future customer already knows a lot of information about your establishment, so there is no point in repeating it to him or her.

Your client just googled your hotel. Don’t give him any information, like “3 star hotel in Saint Germain”, he already knows them.

Just tell him that you are the hotel’s website and why he should click on your ad. Example: Official website of the AAA hotel, 10% discount on our website.

When the user types the name of your hotel on the Internet, they are looking for more information about your hotel. As it is recognized that the official website of a product is the place to find the answers to his questions, if the Internet user discovers there in addition a significant advantage to book directly with you, he will certainly click.

Keywords to include and exclude

The danger of synonyms

Adwords campaigns work by establishing a list of keywords that, once searched by the Internet user, will trigger the display of your ad.

So far so good… But one detail must be taken into account: synonyms!
By definition, Google is a machine. Even though it is an extremely intelligent machine compared to most existing computers, it is still a machine. Google works with synonyms by default. He thinks that the key word “TV show” may also be “8:00 p.m. TV news” – which is not entirely true.

This may not be a problem. But too often you will come across unpleasantly expensive surprises, linked to ads clicked by Internet users who are not in a process concerning your hotel. You must therefore “force” Google to use keywords specific to your establishment.

There are different techniques for “forcing” Google to produce a display only on the keywords you have defined yourself. Just consult the Adwords documentation to know them. Personally, I have a preference for using the “+” in this area.

Don’t let Google manage your campaigns with synonyms. Be specific!

Key words to exclude

Google offers you the possibility to exclude keywords from your campaign, i.e. to inform Google that if someone searches for the term XYZ, you don’t want to appear.

Because of the problem of synonyms, you will also have to define these keywords to exclude from your Adwords campaigns. Here’s a very simple example:

Your hotel is called Hotel AAA and you are located in Monaco. Small problem, you are not the only AAA hotel on the planet; there is the AAA hotel in Paris and the AAA in London.

In this case, you will have to exclude the words “Paris” and “London” (be careful to also eliminate their translation in the different languages: “Parigi”, “London” etc.).

The happy medium

You could say to me, “There’s no point in having keywords to exclude if I’ve handled the keywords I want my campaign to appear on well?”.

That’s true, but not 100%. Let’s take the example above with the AAA hotel.

You could indeed enter only the keyword “Hotel AAA Monaco” and force Internet users to use the word Monaco in their search to see your ad displayed.

But small problem: how many Internet users will search for the name of your hotel by adding the city? Too many of them do not know that there are several hotels with the same name in other cities or countries.

So you have to play cleverly with the keywords you select for your campaign, juggling also with synonyms, those you make mandatory and those you exclude.

Ad extensions

Currently, Adwords offers you to set up several “ad extensions”. These extensions are in fact additional tools that you connect to your ads and that will allow you to increase their profitability very largely.

Without going into the details of how to implement them, here is a quick explanation of the most important extensions and their purpose:

Secondary links: these are the small links in your ad that allow you to go straight to a specific section of your site. They save the Internet user from having to search your site and allow them to go directly to the information they are looking for. Moreover, when these links are displayed on Google, they push very strongly down other ads, competitive or not.

Call: Allows you to display your phone number on your ad. Extremely relevant when surfing from a mobile phone. WARNING: Google offers to count the number of calls generated from this extension. By taking this option, it is no longer your number that is displayed but an 08 XX XX XX XX XX which drastically reduces the number of calls to your hotel. It is better to remain blind to the result than to accept a tool that will greatly diminish your return on investment.

Hook: displays a few small marketing phrases with your ad. It has the advantage of reinforcing the main message of your ad.

Location: a very special extension that will be activated insofar as you also manage the Google Place of your hotel (Google Place is the name that Google has given to its management tool for your Google Map, Google Plus, etc.). By activating this option, you display the physical address of your hotel and push the Adwords ads of your competitors a little lower.

False / true tracking

Tracking is the action of “tracking” the Internet user on the Internet. In short, an Internet user clicks on your Adwords ad and you then start to “track” his movements to find out if your Adwords has brought you a client or not.

Tracking is not a very complicated thing in itself. There is, however, what I call false tracking. By this I mean a tracking system that is technically functional, but does not “track” the elements necessary for a hotel. In simple terms: a tracking system that does not record your reservations.

As I’ve seen many times in the past, I’ll take this opportunity to highlight this important point: a web agency that can’t “track” your clients, when they are actually making a reservation, won’t serve you well. It will only cost you money without maximizing your income.

Manage your campaign costs

Managing the cost of your campaign is such a comprehensive topic that it could be the subject of an article in its own right. Today, I’m just sharing with you a few key concepts, the ones I think are the most important.

CPC (Cost per click): How much should a click cost you to be profitable? This question makes no sense and should never be asked. The cost per cic has nothing to do with the profitability of your campaigns. For example:

A campaign of 10 peaks costing 5€ each but having generated 3 resa of 350€ each is much more profitable than a campaign of 100 peaks at 1€ having generated a single resa of 350€.

Your goal is simply to have your ads appear in first position on your name, no matter how much you pay per cic. In any case, this amount will decrease over time.

CTR (Click Through Rate): the number of times your campaign is clicked compared to the number of times it is displayed on Google. The higher your CTR, the less Google will charge you high prices per cic.

In order to have an interesting CTR, you need to have: 1) eye-catching ads that make you want to cicr and 2) relevant keywords related to you, your hotel and your website. (Appearing in first position on the words “Hotel Paris” will not generate a high CTR at all).

Seniority: Google favours campaigns that last. Don’t interrupt your campaigns, let them live and little by little their profitability will increase (provided of course that you work on them regularly).

Quality score: when an Internet user searches for a keyword, an ad is displayed and he arrives on a site. The more these 3 criteria agree, the higher your quality score will be and the less your peaks will cost you.

Example of a low score :

  • Key word : Hotels Paris
  • Ad text : We are the cheapest hotel in Paris ! Click here!
  • Website posted : A 4 star hotel in the heart of the city

Example of a good score :

  • Key word : Hotels Paris
  • Ad text : Here is the list of all Hotels in Paris including reviews and prices
  • Website displayed: The Booking.com page displaying the list of Parisian hotels with their comments and prices

So be very relevant on your choice of keywords and on the text of your ad. They will give you a very good quality score if they match your website.

Tip: make sure that the financial advantage you mention in your ad is also listed on the first page of your site. In addition to increasing the conversion rate of your site, this tip will improve your quality score.

Keywords: regularly inspect the words on which your ad appears. Find out which ones don’t make you money and remove them from your campaigns.

Conversely, find the key words that are relevant to you and reinforce their importance. Add other similar keywords and don’t hesitate to pay more for them.

Remarketing

Remarketing allows you to display banner ads once a user has passed through your site and then left it (Example: the Booking.com banners you see appearing everywhere on Google after you have gone to inspect your competitors’ pricing strategies).

If you wish to have a very high rate of return on your advertising campaigns, it is imperative to launch a Remarketing campaign at the same time.

Why is Remarketing so important? Because very few customers will click on your campaigns to book instantly. On average, 1 to 7 days will pass between the first cic on one of your Adwords and the time of booking. This period is very dangerous because your prospect will be surfing all over the Internet and will discover several competing hotels; and/or he will be very strongly pushed by the OTAs to book your hotel on their platform.

It is therefore essential that your prospect continues to see your banners on the Web during this decision period. And once again, your banners will have to communicate very clearly the advantage(s) that Internet users will have to book on your site.

Conclusion

Well done Adwords by an expert in hotel advertising will inevitably be profitable for you. Why? Because if Booking, Tripadvisor, Expedia, etc. invest in this media and do BrandJacking, it is because the cost of their campaign is much lower than the commission you pay them.

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