Flywheel News: Your Top 7 Hotel Digital Marketing Updates From January 2020


Although it might have felt like it was going on forever, the first month of the new decade has finally come to a close. There was no shortage of changes and announcements throughout the digital marketing industry over the past month and GCommerce is here to ensure you don’t miss the biggest ones. Here is our top 7 list of digital marketing news updates from January 2020:

1. Google Shakes Up its Desktop Research with a New Design

Google started the year off by launching a new design for its desktop search. First released to its mobile search design back in May, Google transitioned desktop search design to feature a black “Ad” label to identify paid search ads and favicons to identify organic search results.

The industry, and it seems a lot of the general public, sees the change as a negative. GCommerce sees this as another move to confuse users and increase the opportunity they will click on a paid search ad to help Google with its bottom lines. More recent chatter on the subject is that Google might change it back due to backlash from the public as well as the search marketing industry. I’ve personally seen the change revert back to no favicon views in my organic SERP while the black ad label has remained. What are you seeing now?

2. Google Rolls Out January 2020 Core Algorithm Update

Google rolled out it’s January 2020 core algorithm update which brought with it a lot of movement to the SERP. The biggest impact felt by sites that fall within the categories of Health, Family, Beauty, Finance, Internet, Vehicles and Law/Government as reported by Moz. That isn’t to say that travel wasn’t hit. Moz reported Orbitz as a top loser from the algorithm update. Across our clients, we’re also seeing some winners and losers. Please reach out to your Account Executive to inquire if your rankings or organic traffic have suffered since the update. If you’re finding a drop in rankings/traffic since the update, take time to assess the quality of the content on your pages, how can it be improved to better serve your audience?

3. Google Will No Longer Repeat Web Pages Showcased in Featured Snippets

Historically web pages that achieved the coveted “position zero” known as feature snippets in the SERP were rewarded with not only the snippet but a second organic listing on page one. Starting in January, Google will no longer feature the webpage a second time on the 1st page of results. The second listing can appear on a lower page but it’s not guaranteed. Although hotel focused searches don’t have as many opportunities for featured snippets, if your hotel captures this spot with FAQ and how-to or blog content your website’s organic traffic could be impacted.

4. Google Removes Ads and Sponsored Labels from Flight Search

In an interesting move, Google announced that it will “no longer be charging partners for referral links on Google Flights.” Because of this, the “ads” and “sponsored links” labels will also be removed. A Google spokesperson stated that these results will “continue to be ranked on the basis of price and convenience.” Will Google ever do the same for hotels? We won’t hold our breath as Hotel Ads and the travel industry help them capture a great amount of the $10 billion travel digital advertising pie.

5. Google Announces Changes to its Mobile-First Indexing Guide

In January Google updated its mobile-first indexing guide. The consistent theme across the updates was an emphasis on providing the same content experience across devices. Within the updates, Google is advising to use the same content across mobile and desktop, ensure that Googlebot can access and render that content and if you have two versions of your site that the structured data should be identical on both. GCommerce has long supported the best practice of providing a mobile-first experience and showcasing the same content on both mobile and desktop. If your hotel’s website still has two versions you should look into launching one, responsive version. Reach out to GCommerce if your hotel needs help with this.

6. Google Releases its 2020 Customer Journey Insights for Travel

Discover some great insight and stats from Google on the travel customer’s journey. In today’s world, the aspiration and planning process for travel is never-ending. This study reveals that needs-based marketing strategies and data-driven audience targeting can help drive bookings even more than price. GCommerce takes advantage of Google’s anonymous traveler audiences and machine learning to help match our clients with potential guests that are likely to match the hotel’s offerings. Learn more in Google’s customer journey study insights here.

7. New Instagram Stories Tool Allows Brands to Quickly Feature UGC Mentions

Okay, enough Google updates for the month. Here’s a cool new feature that was just released by Instagram.

It’s launched a new “mentions” tool that allows business accounts to easily sort through then stylize and feature UGC content found in the platform from @mentions. This will be a great tool to help all brands take advantage of and easily use UGC content in their stories posts.

Please reach out to GCommerce if you have questions on any of this news or announcements and how we can help steer your hotel to digital marketing success in 2020.

Flywheel News: Your Top 4 Hotel Digital Marketing Updates From December 2019


It’s hard to believe that it’s time to say goodbye to 2019 and welcome in a new year and a new decade. This time of year always finds us looking back, soul searching and identifying intentions to set for the new year ahead. Before we move any deeper into 2020, let’s take a quick glance back at the last month of 2019. Here are the latest hotel digital marketing news updates from December 2019.

1. Google Confirms Local Search Update

In early December, Google confirmed a November algorithm update that impacted local search results. This is the first time that Google has ever confirmed a local search update. Google noted that this impact was the result of the introduction to neural matching which allows the algorithm to “better understand how words are related to concepts”. Google’s Danny Sullivan confirmed that this is separate from the recent BERT update. To make sure that you are best positioned for this and any other algorithm updates, continue to make sure your GMB listing is optimized and accurate, encourage, manage and respond to reviews, add more photos and follow our other suggestions for optimizing your hotel for local SEO.

2. Facebook Releases 2020 Topics and Trends Report

Facebook released its 2020 topics and trends report for brands and advertisers to better understand trends among different regions. Review the report to discover trending topics broken out by regions around the world and start thinking about how your hotel can focus on these trends within branding and social content. For example, in North America trending topics include “The Bath is Back”, focusing on a self-care trend and the power of water to soothe and provide health benefits. If your resort offers spa services that can capitalize on this trend you could focus on your ability to help provide people with more “me time”. Read the entire report here.

3. Apple’s Newest Update to It’s Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) Initiative

In 2017 Apple launched ITP to “identify and limit cookies of any type that have the ability to track users across sites.” In hotel digital marketing cookies are used to track users in order to assign them to remarketing lists and audiences lists and serve them customized ads based on this information. Apple’s ITP “severely limits cookie pools for audience targeting, including remarketing campaigns” which means your hotel’s remarketing list has and will continue to shrink with the increased restrictions implemented by Apple’s ITP. These restrictions only impact Apple’s Safari traffic specifically, so if your hotel has historically received a lot of traffic from Safari users you’ll see a greater impact on the ability to track and attribute performance from this user set. Read more about Apple’s newest update to ITP and what it means for your hotel’s digital marketing here.

4. Facebook Posts New Statement In Preparation to CCPA

The last month prior to CCPA going into effect has seen announcements and information from numerous digital media companies, small and large. One of the largest, Facebook, came out with a new statement explaining their readiness and positioning for CCPA. You can read more about the announcement here. Make sure your hotel is consulting with a lawyer that specializes in consumer privacy law to ready yourself for California’s new CCPA as well as the numerous other privacy laws on the state dockets around the country.

Your Top 7 Hotel Digital Marketing Updates For September 2019


The hotel digital marketing industry changes fast. If you blink, you could miss something. Luckily your hotel digital marketing experts at GCommerce are here to monitor and round up the latest changes happening each month in this easy to follow guide that includes actionable insights. Here’s your top 7 list for September 2019:

1. Google’s Removal & Changes to Hotel Categories in Google My Business

Google has removed specific hotel categories within Google My Business including airport hotel, boutique hotel, budget hotel, and family hotel. What are we left to choose from? Limited options include Capsule Hotel, Extended Stay Hotel, Hot Spring Hotel, Love Hotel, and Wellness Hotel. Online Ownership’s article states that Google removed many hotel categories due to lack of use, which is hard to believe based on search volume.

The question is, what should you do now to ensure your hotel is best positioned and optimized within Google My Business?

  • Log into your Google My Business and check your categories.
  • If you find any duplicates from the removal of specific categories, remove them and replace them with the next best option.

2. Google Ads Launches Seasonality Adjustments for Smart Bidding

Machine learning tools such as bid optimization strategies are only as good as the data and information it has to make adjustments to help hit performance objectives. That’s why we were excited to hear about the launch of seasonality adjustments within Google Ads’ smart bidding strategies. It allows you to tell the platform predicted changes in metrics, such as conversion rate adjustment, that can occur during anomaly events such as flash sales or seasonal events. The platform will then take that into account as it applies adjustments to optimize bids.

3. Update to Google’s Review Rich Snippet Rules

Google has changed the rules regarding how they show review rich snippets in the search results. Now businesses can’t self promote their own reviews through their website with markup and have them displayed in the search results. If you’re using a third-party tool to embed reviews about your hotel on your website and mark them up, the stars will no longer be shown within the Google results. Google’s reasoning behind this is to ensure genuine, non-gated review ratings are being shown in results. It’s unfortunate because it means individual hotels can’t stand out with review stars in the SERP while sites like TripAdvisor, & Expedia can continue to display review stars for hotels and stand out more in the SERP to attract more traffic and capture the booking.

4. Bing Responsive Search Ads Beta Is Now Open

Response Search Ads were first introduced by Google last year, and like many Google features, they are now launching within Bing Ads. Responsive search ads allow advertisers to include up to 15 headlines (30 characters max) and 4 description lines (90 characters max). The platform will then automatically combines the different headlines and descriptions to serve many different ad versions.

This takes a/b testing within ads to an automated process and allows you to try out many different callouts, messages, etc. to see which ones are the most successful. Our Google rep has hinted that responsive search ads may soon become the standard with expanded text ads, possibly being phased out just like standard text ads did. GCommerce recommends having one responsive search ad type live in every ad group.

5. You Can Now Utilize Google Ads’ Smart Bidding With Search Ads 360 Bid Strategies

This is big news for advertisers, such as GCommerce, who utilize Search Ads 360 to manage paid search campaigns. The platform now allows you to combine your advanced Search Ads 360 bid strategies with Google Ads auction-time bidding to further enhance performance. Google Ads Smart Bidding uses different contextual signals (such as device, browser type, location and more) than Search Ads 360’s floodlight signals. Advertisers are reporting an uptick in performance of 10-15% after implementing the option. 

6. Facebook transition to Campaign level budget optimization

September 2019 marked the official transition from ad set level budgets to campaign-level budget optimization within the Facebook Ads platform. The new structure means you set budgets at the campaign level and all ad sets under that campaign share the same budget. Facebook will then automatically shift and distribute the budget between the ad sets based on performance towards the marketing objective set at the campaign level. You can still control spending at the ad set level by setting ad set budget minimums or maximums. Based on how you previously structured campaigns and ad sets in your accounts this may change your approach. 

7. New Tools Rolling out in Facebook Messenger

  • Lead Generation Tools in Facebook Ads Messenger

A new tool is starting to roll out within Facebook Ads manager that allows businesses to set up automated experiences (think chatbot) to qualify leads automatically and then pass them along to your sales team.

  • Improved Reporting

According to Hootsuite’s post on their AdSpresso blog, Facebook has also reported that they will be making it easier for businesses using the messenger platform to report and track events within Messenger. This will hopefully be available later this year.

  • Revised Rules

Facebook has revised rules in messenger including updating the standard messaging window to 24 hours after receiving a bot message. After 24 hours you can only send out a sponsored message or message tags that are preloaded. This should be kept in mind when developing your hotel’s Facebook messenger marketing campaigns.