Hotel campaigns in Google Ads offer several bidding tools that provide flexible billing options and allow you to automatically capture the target market without needing to adjust bids.
This article outlines bidding best practices and tips to help you navigate through the smart bidding strategies for hotel campaign investment at times when user demand is rapidly changing.
Best practices to manage hotel campaigns effectively and with minimal effort
- Determine your goals and performance targets. Learn more about setting goals and targets for specific hotels using campaigns and ad groups
- Consider what resources are available to you and your risk tolerance. If you are able to manage reconciliations, consider the commission (per stay) program, which mitigates the risk of high numbers of cancellations. If reconciliations are not currently possible, then the commission (per conversion) bid strategy does not require reconciliations.
- Once the right bidding strategy is determined, learn how to set the right commission rates or bids to account for changing conditions, such as spikes or dips in volume or conversion rate.
- Identify how traveler behavior is changing and adjust your bids accordingly. For instance, there might be a shift to certain device types or advanced booking windows, or spikes in certain markets as regions recover from COVID-19 on different timelines.
Here are some tips that can help you navigate through the complexities associated with bidding strategies:
1. Identify the right bid strategy for your hotel campaign
When click and conversion trends are constantly changing, Smart Bidding can help you acquire your target market using auction-time signals like user location.
If you do not have the necessary resources to update bids frequently and react to changes quickly, then consider using one of these Smart Bidding strategies:
- Commission (per stay): This helps you eliminate the risk of cancellations. You only pay after guest stays occur. Learn more about commission (per stay) for hotel ads
- Requires you to upload reconciliation reports after guest stays are completed.
- Commission (per conversion): This helps you automatically optimize for bookings, even when user demand is changing quickly. You only pay when a booking occurs. Learn more about commission (per conversion) for hotel ads
- If you're not able to set up conversion tracking, CPC bidding still provides you with the ability to optimize using bid adjustments.
- Enhanced CPC (ECPC): This gives you full control of your maximum CPC bid while automatically adjusting to capture more bookings. Learn more about Enhanced CPC bids for hotel ads
Tip: If you’re using ECPC or commission (per conversion), you can also use the Google Ads Conversion Import feature to upload offline conversions. This is useful if your bookings occur on a partner’s website, or if post-booking processes are required before the booking is confirmed. However, online conversion tracking usually provides better performance for Smart Bidding because it does not carry a delay.
2. Set your bids to account for current trends
The commission rate or maximum CPC bid that you set in your campaign Bid Settings is the best way to control your performance and budgets. Here are some tips:
- Account for high cancellation rates. Commission (per stay) automatically accounts for cancellation rates, but if you're not using commission (per stay), you may have to set your bid to account for unusually high cancellation rates.
ExampleIf your campaign is using commission (per conversion) to automatically acquire the highest-value bookings for you at a 17% commission rate, but you are seeing 40% of all bookings being canceled, you can change your commission rate to 10%-11% to improve your ROAS net of cancellations.
- Anticipate upcoming changes. Smart Bidding strategies will optimize conversions for you based on previous conversion rates. If you anticipate a sudden change to the system that is not reflective of trends over the last month, adjust your bids and targets accordingly.
ExampleCountry A has announced the lift of domestic travel bans, effective next month. You know that travel demand will be significantly higher in the next few weeks compared to what it has been over the past month. To capture this opportunity, you should consider increasing your commission rate (if you are using Smart Bidding) or CPC for campaigns with traffic in Country A.
3. Stay on top of changing trends
These additional tools can help you identify how traveler behavior is changing:
- Reporting in Google Ads: Google Ads provides many itinerary-specific dimensions by which you can slice performance of your hotel campaigns, such as Advance Booking and Rate Type. These trends can be helpful in informing your campaign setup or bidding.
- Think with Google: Think With Google regularly publishes macro insights and trends that may be helpful in understanding how to reach travelers effectively. For example, you can check Google Trends to see query interest in “open hotels” in different geographies.
- Bid simulator: If you’re using commission or CPC, you can use the bid simulator for hotel campaigns to estimate how changes to your bid will impact performance metrics like impressions, clicks, and conversions.
4. Adjust your targets by biddable segments
Hotel campaigns offer rich bid adjustment dimensions so that you can optimize for goals that matter to you, whether or not you are using Smart Bidding. Bid adjustments for hotel campaigns are supported for the following bid strategies: commission (per conversion), ECPC, and CPC.
You can apply the following bid adjustments depending on your use case:
- You're using commission (per conversion), which automatically optimizes for pre-cancellation return on ad spend, and you want to shift traffic away from bookings that are likely to cancel. You notice that bookings for “tonight” are least likely to cancel. You could consider setting a positive bid adjustment using an advance booking window to capture this demand, or applying a negative bid adjustment to longer booking windows.
- You're using CPC bidding and notice that traffic has shifted significantly to mobile while people are staying at home. You could consider setting a device type bid adjustment to account for this pattern.
- These traffic shifts will automatically be accounted for when using Smart Bidding.
You can evaluate the performance of your bid adjustments by slicing performance metrics by the bid adjustment dimensions applied.