Earlier this year, I wrote an article for VRM Intel describing why Google Hotels & Google Travel moving into the vacation rental niche was likely not going to be helpful for the average property manager. This morning, as I was researching a new destination we are launching, I noticed some of my predictions had become a reality.
A simple Google search for ‘Destin vacation rentals’ yielded an unexpected result:
At first glance, it looks like a normal result dominated by Google Ads benefitting large brands. However, below the PPC ads, is a new format of something similar to a Google Local pack.
Since this is a market we are in the process of entering, this result was very interesting to me. I clicked the first result expecting to be taken to the property manager’s webpage or listing:
However, instead of landing on the Holiday Isle (local property manager) webpage or a page managed by them, something very different happened. I landed on a Google page that doesn’t even have that property or property manager represented. Instead, it is a user experience similar to most major OTAs:
Since the property that I clicked on that I had wanted to research/book is not anywhere on the landing page, I clicked into the first one expecting to see something related to a local property manager. Here is what I saw:
When the user clicks the ‘Book a room’ link on this page, they are directed to Booking.com. However, on some of the listings, the potential traveler can complete the process entirely on Google and not bother with visiting EITHER the OTA or the PM.
Also, notice there is not an option to contact the property manager throughout the process!
After digging through about 100 of these listings, I can confirm that even technology-enabled and advanced property managers have not been included (yet) in these results. Instead, this is currently a new lead channel for national-level OTAs including VRBO, Booking.com, Hotels.com, Orbitz, and other major OTAs.
The article I wrote on VRMintel in April of this year details out the exact reasons that Google Travel may be the most expensive OTA in the world. If you thought HomeAway’s matchback was bad, check out the GHACP.
If this channel does become available to larger property managers (my source at Google says will initially only be available to those with well over 1,000 properties), expect to pay at least what other commission-based sites like Booking.com are charging.