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The 3 Best Ways to Use Google Ads for Hotels to increase Bookings

We have seen a definite trend of more and more hotels ramping up their own marketing efforts in an attempt to increase overall turnover and compete with the Online Travel Agencies (OTA) for hard earned margin.

There are a number of marketing channels which work well for hotels with Google Ads still being one of the best options out there. Below we describe the 3 best Google Ad strategies for hotels of all sizes.

General Overview and Considerations:

E-commerce websites and hotels in general usually convert traffic quite terribly. A good website (and strong brand) will typically convert traffic at a rate of 1% – This means for every 100 people visiting your site, only one will actually transact.

Bearing this in mind it becomes extremely important to ensure:

  1. The Cost Per Click is low enough to result in a profitable transaction – If it’s costing you R50 per click that will typically result in a cost per transaction of R5000 (using the above 1% conversion rate)
  2. You attract people at the right time – People do a fortune of research when it comes to booking a room (mostly price research) and therefore it makes sense to capture people once they have done a big bulk of that research rather than paying to educate them.

Because of these factors we have seen the following three strategies to work best.

1. Brand Search: Branded search is the bread and butter for hotels:

Assume your hotel is named “Sea Point Lux Hotel” and it is located in Sea Point, Cape Town. The typical buyers funnel will looks something like this:

People start by searching for hotels in Cape Town. They then get a bit more specific and search for hotels in Sea Point and lastly they consider your hotel and search “Sea Point Lux Hotel”.

Hotel Search Funnel

It makes sense to only bid on Sea Point Lux hotel because:

  • The cost per click will be way cheaper
  • The user has a far higher purchasing intent then someone searching “Hotels in Cape Town”

This is a great way to leverage the power of your own brand AND use the OTA’s for free brand awareness.

2. Use Audiences for All Other Keywords

The only downside of going after branded search is that volumes are typically low and while it is a good strategy to “steal” away some transactions from the OTA’s it won’t typically increase bookings considerably. The best way to fill the top of the funnel is to go after non-branded search BUT only when paired with high-purchasing intent audiences.

There are two audience targeting options for google search ads:

  1. Observation – People that match your audience AND people that don’t match your audience will both be able to see your ads but Google will report on both.
  2. Targeting – Only people who have search for your chosen keywords AND people that match your audience will be shown your ads.

Targeting vs Observation

We usually build a remarketing audience of 30 days (people that have been to the site within 30 days) and ensure this audience is set to “targeting” so that only people that have been to the site see that ads. We then bid on any and all relevant keywords ; “hotels in Cape Town”, “hotels in Sea Point” etc. This ensures that anyone that has been to our site AND searching for broad based or top of funnel keywords will see our ads. This also ensures we show our ads to people who already have a level of brand-affinity with our hotels and typically have a high propensity to transact.

3. Cart Abandonment – Display Remarketing

Cart abandonment campaigns work wonders for hotels. There is no better signal of purchasing intent than people who have viewed the pricing but have failed to book for some reason. People fail to book for multiple reasons:

  1. They run out of time
  2. They price compare
  3. The change their mind
  4. Their payment doesn’t process correctly
  5. They find a better competitive option
  6. They choose not to travel altogether.

Hotel Remarketing AdCart Abandonment display campaigns ensure your brand stays top of mind and usually result in hotels recovering around 10% of abandoned checkouts.

This typically results in your best ROI as the audience which one shows the ads to is usually small but very valuable.


Google Ads are one of the best ways to increase direct bookings for hotels but they are only of many methods available. If you need help in increasing bookings to your hotel, please complete your details below and we’ll try our best to help.

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