Flywheel News | June 2024 Hotel Digital Marketing News | GCommerce

  1. Google improves GA4 attribution models for better paid search conversion tracking

Google has updated its GA4 attribution models to more accurately assign conversions to paid search campaigns. Previously, some conversions were incorrectly attributed to organic search due to issues with the 'gclid' parameter in single-page applications. This update ensures that campaign information is correctly captured and attributed to paid search, potentially increasing the number of conversions reported for these campaigns. Learn more here.

  1. The crucial importance of owning your website

Having a robust online presence is not just advantageous- it's essential. While social media platforms offer visibility and engagement, they shouldn't be your sole digital outpost. Instead, owning your website is paramount for establishing credibility, control, and long-term success online. Discover the top reasons why owning your website is crucial for your property.

  1. Meta accelerates GA4 integration, highlights 22% surge in conversions

Meta is encouraging advertisers to integrate Google Analytics 4 (GA4) data, claiming a 22% boost in conversions from improved campaign performance. This integration allows for better tracking of ad influence on website traffic and user behavior. Despite its benefits, GA4 has limitations, including privacy regulations and challenges with longer sales cycles.For more details, you can read the full article here.

  1. Which ad performed best? Can you guess?

Facebook ads are a powerful tool for businesses to reach their target audience through personalized and engaging content, but selecting the perfect elements for an ad is like finding the missing puzzle piece to campaign success. Take a look at these Facebook ad variations and see if you can guess which one outperformed the others? Discover more here.

  1. Facebook experiments with 'Clear Mode' for enhanced reels viewing experience

Facebook is testing a "Clear Mode" for Reels, aimed at providing a cleaner, less cluttered viewing experience by removing on-screen distractions. This feature is currently in limited testing and could enhance user engagement by focusing solely on the content. Check out the full article, here.

  1. Google transitions hotel ads to AI-Driven bidding strategies

Google is transitioning its hotel ads to AI-powered bidding strategies, phasing out commission-based bidding by October 2024. The new strategies, including target Return on Ad Spend (tROAS) and expanded Performance Max, aim to optimize ad performance using AI and adapt to a privacy-focused advertising environment. Learn more here. 

  1. California Assembly Bill No. 537 goes into effect

Starting July 1st, California’s Assembly Bill No. 537 goes into effect. This requires transparency in pricing. It applies to displaying rates to travelers in California, and applies even if your property is located outside of California. All advertised room rates must include mandatory fees, excluding government taxes - so no more hidden resort fees or charges. Our advertising that features rates and metasearch, is already updating to be in compliance with this law but it’s important for you to consult your legal counsel and ensure your website/other channels are in compliance.

  1. Google consent mode updates

Google has launched consent mode v2. This is an update to their consent mode tag setting that allows your website visitors' cookie preferences to be passed via their selections on your domain’s cookie banner/consent management platform to Google’s suite of ad products, such as Google Ads and Google Marketing Platform. You can learn more about the details of consent mode here.

Which Ad Preformed Best? Can you Guess?


Facebook ads are a powerful tool for businesses to reach their target audience through personalized and engaging content, but selecting the perfect elements for an ad is like finding the missing puzzle piece to campaign success.

Take a look at these Facebook ad variations and see if you can guess which one outperformed the others? Discover more here.

Flywheel News | May 2024 Hotel Digital Marketing News | GCommerce

  1. Google Marketing Live 2024: Key takeaways from the GCommerce team

    Every year, the marketing industry eagerly awaits Google Marketing Live, Google’s annual event to showcase what’s new in the world of Google advertising. Discover our key takeaways from Google Marketing Live 2024.

    1. Google announces new ad creative and targeting tools for AI overviews, PMax & more

    Google has been working on making it easier and faster to produce great creative assets for ads across marketing channels. Discover more now. 

    1. Canva announced an enterprise platform, AI features and refreshed UI

    A whole new editing experience and Canva Enterprise package targets businesses using a mixed bag of workspace tools. Learn more here. 

    4. Is your property adjusting your metasearch bids for direct bookings?
    Hotel Metasearch Bid Modifiers allow you to adjust your hotel metasearch default bid by a percentage at various levels. Learn how to adjust your metasearch bids for maximum direct bookings, here

    5. Meta adds automated video ad option to Automated Catalog Ads offerings

      Catalog product video allows advertisers to upload video assets directly into their catalog at the product or SKU level. Once uploaded, advertisers can leverage the AI in Advantage+ solutions to pinpoint ideal users, deliver impactful content and ultimately drive conversions. Learn more here. 

      1. Google Analytics 4 now showing real-time users in the last 5 minutes

      Google has upgraded its Google Analytics, GA4, real-time reports to show users in the last 5 minutes. It previously showed users in the last 30 minutes, and now it shows both users in the last 5 minutes and users in the last 30 minutes. Explore this here.

      1. Top travel apps harvesting your data without asking

      Cybernews discovered that travel apps have built-in permissions that allow developers to access sensitive information on users' devices, including location, contacts, camera, microphone, and SMS messages. Learn more here.

      The Crucial Importance of Owning Your Website


      Having a robust online presence is not just advantageous—it's essential. While social media platforms offer visibility and engagement, they shouldn't be your sole digital outpost. Instead, owning your website is paramount for establishing credibility, control, and long-term success online. Let's look at the top reasons why owning your website is crucial for your property. 

      Let's look at the top reasons why owning your website is crucial for your property.

      1. Revenue Ownership: Your hotel's website serves as a crucial revenue-generating platform, acting as the digital storefront where potential guests discover, explore, and ultimately book their stay. If you don't own the website, you don’t own that source of revenue.
      2. Control: When you own your website, you have full control over its design, content, functionality, and branding. This means you can tailor it to reflect your hotel's unique identity and effectively communicate your brand message to potential guests.
      3. Flexibility: Owning your website gives you the flexibility to make changes and updates quickly and easily. Whether it's updating room rates, adding new photos, or implementing new features, you can do so without relying on a third party.
      4. Customization: With ownership, you can customize your website to meet the specific needs of your hotel and your target audience. You can optimize it for search engines, integrate booking engines and other tools, and create a seamless user experience that encourages direct bookings.
      5. Data Ownership: Perhaps most importantly, owning your website means you own the data generated by it. This includes information about your website visitors, their behavior, and their preferences. Having access to this data is invaluable for understanding your audience, refining your marketing strategies, and ultimately driving more bookings.

      View our recent blogs on the importance of 1st party data:

      1. Cost Savings: While there may be upfront costs associated with building and maintaining your own website, in the long run, owning your website can actually save you money. You won't have to pay ongoing fees to third-party platforms, and you'll have more control over your budget for website-related expenses.
      2. Liability: As privacy laws, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), continue to grow, so does the importance of owning and managing your data responsibly. Owning your data is essential for compliance with privacy laws, accountability in data management, responsiveness to customer requests, mitigation of third-party risks, and enhancement of transparency and trust

      Overall, owning your hotel website gives you autonomy, flexibility, and control over your online presence, ultimately helping you attract more guests and drive more direct bookings.Looking to take control of our website? Check out our Webflow services.

      Google Marketing Live 2024: Key Takeaways from the GCommerce Team


      Every year, the marketing industry eagerly awaits Google Marketing Live, Google’s annual event to showcase what’s new in the world of Google advertising. While this year seemed to focus on e-commerce and retail heavily, there were still a lot of announcements and features that got us excited about what’s to come. Discover our key takeaways from Google Marketing Live 2024 below.

      By Jaylene Van Lin, Marketing Specialist

      Develop ads that adhere to your brand standards

      Later this year, you'll be able to supply Google AI with your brand guidelines, such as your colors and fonts, to create ads that reflect your brand across multiple formats and channels. You'll also have the option to upload sample images, enabling generative AI to produce new images that match your visual style. Furthermore, you can use the "Generate more like this" feature to create additional on-brand variants of your successful assets.

      By Morgan Tuohy, Senior Marketing Strategist

      Take your AI-generated creative to other platforms

      While using Google’s tools to create new creative assets, you retain the rights to use those assets across other platforms, including those not owned by Google. While other platforms lag behind Google on the move to AI-generated creative assets, you can maintain brand consistency and save time by taking assets from one platform to another.

      By Alex Scharpf, Search Marketing Supervisor

      Don’t underestimate short-form

      Google is pushing towards YouTube Shorts more than ever, and the format is growing in terms of both engagement and viewership. As Google continues to provide more in-depth ways to monetize Shorts, vertical image assets and short-form video content will become even more important in the upcoming years. And because travel-based content already has a strong presence on Shorts, skipping these assets as a hotel may leave valuable customer interactions on the table.

      By Maddie Holifeild, Marketing Specialist

      Google Gemini has the potential to be a powerful tool for Hoteliers

      While presenting at this year’s keynote, Philipp Schindler touched on the developments of Google Gemini, an AI assistant that provides access to Google AI. With a tool like this, Hoteliers can analyze large datasets to understand customer preferences and behavior patterns. This will allow hotels to deliver highly personalized marketing campaigns, offers, and recommendations like dining options, specific room types, and local attractions based on a guest’s previous stays or preferences. With AI on the rise, there is also an opportunity to enhance customer service through advanced chatbots and virtual assistants that can handle a wide range of inquiries, from booking reservations and answering questions about amenities. 

      By Meaghan Reynolds, Marketing Specialist

      Google’s new brand profiles will help enhance hotels' online presence

      Google’s introduction of new brand profiles and AI branding tools empowers businesses to showcase their unique brand identities more effectively. These tools will allow merchants to showcase and highlight key information with new and compelling visuals as well as using AI to effortlessly create engaging content. For Hotels, this is a great opportunity to feature new imagery, positive guest experiences, and videos directly in a search result. This new AI tool can allow hotels to generate new and engaging content which will help to enhance their marketing efforts and attract more potential guests.

      By Alex Horrocks, Search Marketing Strategist

      The Power Pair

      At Google Marketing Live, the "Power Pair" strategy was highlighted, combining broad match keywords inside Paid Search Campaigns alongside Performance Max. While it's well-known that advertisers often prefer exact and phrase match keywords for higher quality traffic, Google shared data showing that Power Pair could boost conversions by 27%. As advertisers, we constantly test new strategies, but this approach might not suit smaller businesses. Paid search tends to be more effective with targeted campaigns rather than broad approaches for smaller businesses. If you decide to implement the Power Pair strategy, ensure you leverage your other tools by optimizing audiences, demographics, and bid modifiers to avoid unnecessary spending

      By Lisa McGivney, Director of Marketing

      Google will prioritize ads in AI overviews

      The search community has long guessed that the only way Google would roll out GenAI into the live results would be if they found a way to maintain ad revenue. During Google Marketing Live 2024, they confirmed that although historically ads have only appeared above and below the overviews, they will now be testing ads within the AI Overviews. It will be interesting to see how this evolves and what type (if any) of reporting they offer to show the performance of ads within AI Overviews. We’ll be ready.

      By Jael Dugdale, Metadesk Operations Team Lead

      Embracing AI and intent-based searches

      As AI takes center stage at Google Marketing Live 2024, the future of SEO is being reshaped. Google emphasized a shift from specific keywords to user intent, with more complex searches—often five or more words—becoming the norm. Where complex searches once required multiple steps, AI now provides comprehensive options in a single query. For example, a search for “fun places to eat in Monterey” can now yield clusters of results like reviews, sunset views, and seafood havens. Google Lens also enables easy identification of objects with a simple point-and-shoot. So, what’s next? Ads and organic search results will change, requiring SEO strategies to adapt. Beyond keywords, SEO should focus on intent-based searches, are they a seafood haven? Making sure their alt text identifies objects in images correctly, color, size, etc. providing relevant, concise content, and making sure they continue to highlight their Long-Term Sustainable Competitive Advantages (LTSCA) to stand out in future AI-driven searches.

      By Kristina Webber, Marketing Specialist

      First-party data is critical to advertising on Google 

      Having good AI requires good data. At Google Marketing Live, AI was mentioned frequently. However, having the right first-party data to fuel successful campaigns will help drive conversions more cost-effectively. To assist with this, Google announced a new feature: Measurement Diagnostics. This feature can evaluate your website and gather data by diagnosing missing data or opportunities that can be used to understand your audience through first-party insights.

      By Nikki Abrego, Marketing Strategist

      When will Power Pair take advantage of travel? 

      During the Google Live session, they introduced a game-changing feature, Power Pair. This feature combines search and performance campaigns to deliver the strongest data performance of ROI across all of Google, enhancing visual search. They demonstrated this with a retail example: a consumer snaps a picture of a suitcase, and search results populate with similar products. This got me thinking about the exciting possibilities we could explore for our clients and how this could significantly enhance our advertising strategies with hotels and travel.

      Instead of taking pictures of products, users could upload an image of an aesthetic room or an environment they aspire to be in. For instance, if someone uploads a picture of a beach with a palm tree, our hotel client, The Cove, could appear in the search results with their villas providing that similar view. Or, if an image of a dark romance room aesthetic is uploaded, our client, Crossroads, could pop up with matching aesthetic suites available to book. By feeding images into Power Pair, this feature could encourage customers to book travel based on the visuals they have seen or saved on their Pinterest travel boards. 

      By Kaylin Long, Search Marketing Specialist

      More choice for consumers means more opportunities for advertisers

      People are starting to search in new ways—they’re asking more complex questions, searching with images, etc. All of these different ways that a consumer can search mean that the consumer has more choice, which means more opportunities for advertisers. Google is implementing more ways to implement shopping and metasearch-type ads that will be more relevant to our consumers. AI powered by Google will deliver the most relevant results to our consumers, bringing in more qualified leads and a higher ROAS.

      How to Adjust Your Metasearch Bids for Maximum Direct Bookings


      Metasearch serves as a powerful tool for hotels, wielding considerable influence within the online travel sphere. Established giants like Expedia, TripAdvisor, and have long leveraged this platform to funnel bookings towards hotels. However, while these bookings once seemed advantageous, they often come at the expense of reduced profitability for hotels, which prompts a strategic pivot towards maximizing direct hotel bookings over OTA channels.

      Beyond financial considerations, there are two additional compelling reasons for prioritizing direct bookings. Establishing a direct relationship with the guest proves invaluable for pre/post-stay communications, loyalty programs, and other personalized services. Secondly, the acquisition of first-party data through direct bookings enables hotels to enhance their email marketing efforts, refine guest profiling, craft tailored messaging, and optimize their advertising strategy.

      Now, how can metasearch help you achieve this shift? Once you've taken the plunge into metasearch, it's time to equip yourself with the tools that can amplify your direct bookings. In the upcoming sections, we'll delve into the specifics of metasearch bids and their role in elevating your hotel's online presence.

      What exactly are metasearch bids?

      “Metasearch Bids” is short for “ Metasearch Bid Modifiers”. Hotel Metasearch Bid Modifiers allow us to adjust our default bid by a percentage at various levels. Based on your goals, they enable us to increase or decrease what we are willing to bid on each click or transaction. This allows us to target your hotel’s specific revenue production needs, acquire more valuable traffic, and reduce focus on segments that are not effective in driving bookings or revenue production.

      What type of metasearch bid modifiers are there?

      Most metasearch channels offer bid modifier capabilities, allowing advertisers to fine-tune their strategies based on performance data. Here, we'll explore some common bid modifiers, what they entail, and how to approach them effectively.

      • Bid strategies - A metasearch bid strategy involves carefully determining and adjusting bid amounts to optimize the visibility and performance of hotel listings on metasearch platforms, aiming to attract more direct hotel bookings while maximizing return on investment. Two of the most common bid strategies used are first position share & visible position share. Let’s dive into what these both are and how they can help your hotel:
        • Visible position share: This is the percentage of time a hotel’s listing is displayed within the visible area of search results. Most hotels typically use this strategy as a starting point when they’re new to metasearch. This strategy is more focused on the return of your metasearch marketing efforts.
        • First position share: This refers to the percentage of time a hotel’s listing appears at the top position (or the first result). When using metasearch, you might not typically start here, depending on your budget or performance to begin with. However, over time, you might realize that after using visible position share with a good return, you might want to test getting more visibility, knowing confidently you’ll get more bookings but at a higher scale and possibly a lower return.
      • Check-in date - A bid-modifying tool that allows you to increase or decrease bids for specific dates while looking ahead of time. You might have slower or higher peak times throughout the season of your hotel. This tool will let you adjust those dates to help you be more efficient and focus on direct bookings when they happen most often or when they need to happen.
      • Day of the week - This refers to the days of the week your guests are booking. Overtime, you can analyze this data and decide which days are worth investing more marketing dollars into and vice versa. Hotel need periods vary for different properties but it is common to see hotels needing to fill midweek or weekend periods. Increasing visibility for searches for these types of stays can help increase direct bookings.
      • Days to arrival - Making adjustments to this tool is unique because it gives you the flexibility of targeting guests that intend to book your hotel the same day or days in advance. You might discover that your guests are more prone to book a week or two from their actual check in date. This tool will allow you to make adjustments accordingly to invest more into those days of arrival and therefore yield more direct bookings during those days. This example below shows that guests look at booking mostly 15 or more days out in advance. In this scenario, you can push more of your metasearch bids towards these length of stays. 
      • Length of stay - This is the amount of time your guests stay at your hotel. Rather than focusing on all length of stays to get direct bookings, why not push more budget into the select amount of days your guests typically book? Or when occupancy is healthy but not 100% you can use this tool to help enforce minimum length of stays. In other words, you can focus on longer length of stays instead of one or two nights to help fill in those gaps.
      • Guests - What kind of audience does your hotel like to cater to? Are you a romantic getaway? If so, focus on getting more bookings for two guests. If your hotel is in a location that draws in families, invest more money into getting direct bookings for guests of 5 or more.
      • Device type - Your guests might prefer to book on one device over another. Typically for hotels, guests tend to book on Desktop devices. When using metasearch, you should follow the data to determine which devices your guests are booking the most. From there you would adjust accordingly to push your metasearch bids towards one device and vice versa.
      • Audience - Not just within metasearch but with any channel of your online presence, you should know your audience in and out. Doing this will make your metasearch efforts more efficient by getting direct bookings from an audience that is more likely to book. Examine the guests of your audience. Why would they book your hotel? What things does your audience like doing in their spare time? What’s their personality? The more you know about your typical guests, the more you can shift your metasearch towards those more likely to book directly with your hotel.

      How does adjusting metasearch bids help me get more direct hotel bookings?

      Earlier we talked about established giants in the metasearch game (i.e. Expedia, Trip Advisor, etc.) and that they’ve leveraged metasearch for years. Approaching metasearch with the expectation of stretching your budget across every aspect of your bid modifiers may not yield the desired results in terms of driving direct bookings. It’s like taking a mom-and-pop shop and trying to compete with Amazon – while admirable, it’s better to focus on areas where your competition might be overlooking. By strategically adjusting your metasearch bids, you can capitalize on these opportunities and maximize direct bookings.