Google My Business For Hotels: Functionality Updates During Coronavirus


Local SEO and accurate listings, especially Google My Business, are always critical to ensure your hotel’s business is best positioned within search engine results pages. The impacts of coronavirus on different industries are constantly changing and this extends to Google’s services including it’s Google My Business product. Over the past week, and it seems daily, the situation has been ever-evolving and strategy on this channel is having to pivot just as quickly. Some advice we gave last week is now irrelevant as Google continues to adjust functionality. Here’s what we know as of March 24, 2020 as it comes to Google My Business’ current product limitations for your hotel and how you can react.

1. Your hotel's business listing information edits/updates are delayed

Business listing information such as hours, photos, services, and attributes are not being approved as quickly as usual. All requested updates to Google My Business listings are reviewing and approved by Google before they go live. Priority is being given to businesses related to healthcare and other essential businesses. This doesn’t mean you should stop submitting updates and information to your listings. Continue to submit accurate updates as well as information around hotel attributes, services, photos and more. They will be posted, just delayed in going live.

2. Google My Business Q&A feature is no longer visible (as of March 23, 2020)

In what appears to be in response to businesses being inundated with questions around coronavirus, Google has completely removed this section from the Google My Business knowledge panel. Google officially announced the removal of this section in its support website. Just last week Local SEO industry experts, including GCommerce, were recommending to post and answer business FAQ to this section. It appears the ability to display these to searchers and customers are now gone. Hotels should continue to use their own websites, email and social channels to keep customers up to date around updates to services and hours available during this time. View old knowledge panel with Q&A vs current knowledge panel examples below:

3. Google is pausing the ability to post new customer reviews & respond to reviews during this time

Although customers are still able to submit new reviews, Google has paused posting any new reviews during this time. It is unknown if Google will eventually make reviews posted during this time live in the future so it may be a good time to direct your loyal fans and past guests to post reviews on other channels such as Facebook or TripAdvisor.

4. Google Posts functionality is still present but industries like Hotels don’t get access to this functionality

Many industries’ businesses still have the functionality available to create new Google posts to keep customers up to date during this time, although there have also been some reports of issues with creating posts by some businesses. Unfortunately, Google Posts functionality has never been present for hotels. GCommerce recommends that hotels use their websites, email and social channels to continue to keep customers informed and connected during this time.

5. Restaurants Can Temporarily Include “Delivery Available” or “Takeout Available” to Business Names

Google has confirmed they are okay with restaurants temporarily adding the words “Delivery Available” or “Takeout Available” during this time to communicate updated business status. Normally this goes against Google’s policy guidelines but they are making special exceptions during this time. If your restaurant is still offering either of these during this time, GCommerce can assist in updating your business name to communicate to guests.

We Want To Help

Given the current, unprecedented times we are in, GCommerce expects the functionality and capabilities of Google My Business to be an ever-evolving situation. We will continue to stay on the pulse of what is happening and what the best approach is for hotel businesses during this time. Please reach out if we can be of assistance to your local business during this time.

If you’d like help identifying ways to help your hotel or property, we’re offering a free phone consultation, no strings attached.  We’ll interview you about your specific situation, your historical business mix and talk about actionable things you can do to drive bookings.

Contact Us

Google My Business Reviews Directly Correlate to Your Hotel’s Conversion Rate


It should be no surprise in today’s world of marketing how important reviews are for your hotel. For a little refresher: 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations and 95% of consumers say that online reviews influence their buying decisions. 

Your hotel has reviews, so you are golden, right? Not so fast. There is probably more that you should be doing to ensure your maximizing benefits from guest reviews. Uberall did a study from analyzing 64,000 GMB (Google My Business) profiles in 4 countries to find out what turns consumers into customers.

We all want the best reviews possible and a perfect score is the ultimate goal. What people don't realize is that even a review star rating increase of just 0.1 could increase the conversion rates of a business location by 25%, one study finds. The sweet spot for star ratings is 4.4 (Growth Jump 3 in the diagram below). The study found that there is less competition at this mark and is where the conversion rates start to dramatically increase.

Conversion rates peak when they have attained a 4.9-star rating, but when businesses improved from 3.5 stars one year to 3.7 stars the following, they saw an almost 120% increase in conversions, which is the highest percentage growth jump from any star rating.

The chart below shows growth across SMBs (small to medium size businesses), enterprise locations and global brands. As you can see, across the board, conversion growth peaked between the 3.5 to 3.7-star mark.

Reviews Across Industries

Reviews are allowing SMBs to compete with enterprise businesses and global brands and they should definitely take note. SMBs across the board are achieving higher star ratings allowing them to achieve higher conversion rates up until the 4.4-star rating mark.

Replying to Your Hotel’s Reviews Is Just as Important

So, your hotel has a substantial number of reviews and a great star rating, now what? Reply! Enterprise businesses are hovering around a 10% reply rate. Understandably, they have more locations and thousands of reviews and it can be time-consuming. It is also estimated that 75% of small businesses don’t respond to their reviews at all, though they do reply more on average than enterprise businesses.

Looking at the chart, you will find that SMB and enterprise conversion rates intersect at just about the same point. When the reply rate starts to increase to the 20-30% range, you will start to see the conversion rate really climb for enterprise companies. 

“According to this data, enterprise locations that reply to an average of 32% of reviews will have an 80% higher conversion rate than enterprise and SMB locations that reply to 10% of reviews and 40% higher than SMBs that also reply to 32%” the study finds.

While enterprise locations will outperform SMBs at certain review star ratings and reply rates, most brands are not currently adapting to the reputation management revolution to achieve growth rates that they are capable of.

Next time you think you can’t compete against your local small competition, let alone the big brands in the hotel market, think again. Early adaption is key to get ahead and to maintain market share and position once you get there. 

GCommerce offers solutions to help you adapt and maintain your hotel’s market share and local position. Reach out to your Account Executive for more information!

How to Answer Customer Questions on Your Hotel’s Google My Business Listing


We get a lot of questions about how to answer questions through Google My Business and if it is something that is really all that important. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to answer any questions you get!

1. Sign in to the Google account that is linked to your hotel’s Google My Business listing.

2. Search for your business on Google Search and navigate to your listing where you will find the “questions and answers” section.

3. Once you find the question you wish to answer, select “answer” to reply.

It is important to check that you are responding from the correct account. Otherwise, it will show up from the wrong profile. If you are signed in to the correct account, you will notice your business name and (owner) right after, as seen below.

4. Once you have answered the question to your liking, click “post”. Note that it may take a
few minutes for your answer to show up. Again, it is important to double-check which
account you are posting from to ensure it is the owner's account prior to posting.

5. It is important to note that keyword stuffing is against Google SEO best practices. While it is
okay to use a keyword in your answer, make sure it is relevant and your answer remains easy
to and natural to read.

Why is my answer not showing up in the Q&A section?

After posting your response and refreshing your answer, if it never shows up on the question, it is likely because your response included content that was not allowed by Google.

Restricted content includes:

• Links to a web page
• Email addresses
• Phone numbers

Can I edit an answer that I provided?

The simple answer is yes. You can edit your answers, however, if your answer is edited it will show “edited” to all users afterward. While it is more important to have accurate information than to worry about an “edited” tag, it is recommended to ensure your answer is 100% accurate the first time.

The same goes for users editing their questions. You want to ensure your answer is clear and thorough enough that if the question is edited, your answer cannot be misconstrued or used differently. For example, using a simple yes or no could easily change context if the question was ever changed. GCommerce recommends repeating words from the question within your answer, for example:

Question: Does Your Hotel Offer Parking?

Answer: Yes, The Durham Hotel in Durham, NC offers free parking with every stay.

What if there is an inappropriate question or an incorrect answer?

If there is a question or answer that is inappropriate, off-topic, fake or violates any other of Google’s terms, you can report it and request to have it removed. The process is the same whether you are trying to report a question or an answer.

1. Find the question/answer you wish to report and select the three dots to open the menu.
2. Click “report.”
3. Select the reason for reporting.

If you have any further questions, please feel free to reach out to your dedicated Account Manager or contact GCommerce for more information.