Hotel brands may be well-known in the physical space, but they lack visibility when it comes to online booking. Consumers looking on Google to reserve a room typically find a long list of results from online travel agencies and metasearch sites, rather than the brand itself. However, L2’s Second-Order Search report offers a few strategies for brands to boost their visibility.
At first glance, that looks to be an uphill battle. TripAdvisor is the most visible lodging site on Google, appearing on the first page of organic and paid search results for more than 85% of hotel terms. Hotels.com and Expedia also make a strong showing, appearing organically for more than 60% of search terms. Marriott is the only competitive hotel brand in the study, with a paid and organic presence as strong as Kayak’s on luxury keywords.
Hotel brands also lose out to online travel agencies and metasearch sites when it comes to side-rail and footer featured listings on Expedia, Kayak, and TripAdvisor. Not a single Hotel brand owns more than 6% of featured listings on Expedia, Kayak, or Tripadvisor, and brands as a whole never own more than 30%.
However, Hotel brands can boost their visibility by leveraging these platforms’ audiences. Specifically, the study suggests reallocating display advertising dollars to online travel agencies and metasearch sites, in addition to optimizing search on these platforms. Since brands don’t tend to show up near the top of Google search results, such a strategy can help them piggyback on those platforms’ superior positioning. For example, brands can sponsor listings on OTAs: Hilton stakes claim to 23% of the sponsored listing real estate on Kayak, and the Starwood portfolio owns 10%. As a result, these brands and others that paid for the privilege appear as the first listing in every Kayak search.