A 'Duffers' Guide to Google Adwords

Nowadays when people want to know something or find something they start looking on Google. (over 5 billion searches per day are done on Google). Wouldn't it be good if you could advertise your hotel to all these people doing Google Searches!!!! Well you can, it's called Google Adwords!

How does it work?

You pay Google to display an advert when someone searches.

Wow, I'm going to start right now, will i appear on every single Google Search?

In theory if you had billions of dollars you could, in reality if someone is searching for disposable nappies in Australia its pointless spending money to advertise a ‘Hotel in Paris’.

So how do i make sure my ads only appear to people who are looking for a hotel in my area?

When you set up Google Adwords you select the search words/terms that you want to your ad to appear for ie If someone is searching for 'hotel in paris' you would want your ad to appear.....ideally.

How do Google get paid?

When someone clicks on your ad to view what you are offering they charge you for that ‘click’ ie 50 cents (known as Pay Per Click).

Is it expensive?

You can spend as much or as little as you wish. You tell Google 2 things;
  1. How much you want to spend when someone clicks on your ad. (if you say 10 cents then a competitor bidding 20 cents per ad will appear above your ad and steal the gold. If you pay 5$ per click but only one in 10 clicks/visitors actually buy a room, it may not be cost effective.
  2. How much you want to spend per day. You set the budget ie 10$ Per Day and Google will actually switch the ad on and off during the day to limit your spend to 10$.

Is it truly worthwhile?

In our view a hotel should not be without Google Adwords. If you don't do it you will simply end up paying (larger) commissions to Online Travel Agents or living with less turnover. The problem is that most Hotel Owner/Managers by their very nature are ‘service orientated’ not technologists.

Is it complicated?

Many people will tell you it isn't, but in our view it is beyond the scope of a 'hassled' Hotel Manager.

Should I farm it out to a technical person?

Yes and no. If you don't know what you want to ACHEIVE with Google Adwords don't do it. If you do then work with a 'Digital Marketer' to set up and maintain the account but tell them what you want to sell and when. Don't them let them go away and do their 'voodoo' on their own. They don't know your business. Example: In an accidental discussion with a London Hotel they told us they were only 600 metres from a Google Office. Consequently we set up a Google ad that said 'xxxxxx Hotel, 600 metres from Google Head Office’ which performed very well. But we would not have known that they were so close to the Google Offices.

How do I know which words or terms guests are using to search?

You can access tools such as Google Trends that will tell you how frequently words or terms are being used in searches.

Isn't it stupid to set up an ad using my hotel name to trigger the ads? Wont guests come direct to my website anyway?

Not at all, we generally see that ads that are displayed when people search for your hotel name ie ‘Cedar Trees Bristol’ are the ones that convert the best. This is because;
  1. If the guest is searching for you by name then they are obviously/definitely looking for you. They are most likely to go ahead and book.
  2. You are competing with the OTA's who unfortunately for you are also bidding on your property name (don't get us started) so with luck you will claw back some direct bookings.

This is great, I know I'm getting visitors to the weddings section of my website but they don't seem to go any further?

Google offers a tool called Remarketing. If viewers land on your website or on a particular webpage they can serve up an advert to those people to remind them what you are offering as they go off searching the world wide web (You have seen this happening..... you land on a website then their ad follows you around the internet for the next couple of weeks). For example you could set up Remarketing so that viewers to your wedding page are served an ad ‘’4 Free Rooms for Wedding Bookings’ after leaving your website and browsing the worldwide web.

Isn't it true 'Big' companies such as the OTA's/Trivago/TripAdvisor etc have Google Adwords sewn up, its not worth doing!

Not true in our view. Yes they will be dominant in keywords such as 'Hotel in London' but there should be niches in areas such as 'Hotel near Covent Garden' and other areas.

Can I measure how the ads are performing?

The techies will tell you 'yes' that they can measure which of the people who click on an ad actually buy a room and they will then be fit to tell you that you spent 10$ and got 200$ of room sales (making a ROI of 20:1).
In our view no, because for example if a viewer clicks on your ad on their mobile phone at lunch time and then books from their computer at home that night this cannot be tracked and measured.

Is there any other hints and tips?

Yes there is, but really they are just common sense.
  • Make the text in your ad stand out ('Official Website, Best Rates Direct' / Free Breakfast when you Book Direct' etc)
  • Keep your keywords narrow and focussed ie instead of 'hotel in bristol' use 'hotel near bristol opera house'
  • Dumb down your thinking when setting up Adwords ie Customers are much more likely to search for 'Cheap Hotel in Bristol' rather than 'Boutique Hotel in Bristol'.
  • Make sure what you ad corresponds with what the viewer sees when they land on the website. For example if you are advertising a last minute deal ‘1 B&B + Dinner 99£’ DONT link this ad to the homepage of your website and then force the viewer to hunt around the site for the offer. Link the ad direct to the offer....make it as simple as possible to go ahead and book (ie convert).