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New Google Places Impact on Hotels, Resorts and Restaurants

New Google Places

Google Places Integrated with Organic, Links to Online Review Sites

Hotel Owners, General Managers and hotel marketers have been very active with Google Local listings for the past couple of years, hoping to become one of those lucky five or six listings next to the map at the top of search results using “city name + hotels” or “city name + restaurants” search queries. In the United States alone, consumers submit more than three billion local searches every month as they continue to turn to online search for research and recommendations.

When Google announced its new “Place Search” back in October, marketers swiftly took notes and began researching and forecasting implications to website traffic and Paid Search campaigns. With Place Search, local listings are combined with organic results, and the map has moved to the right into the column that displays Paid Search ads.

User generated content is integrated and displays prominently in the new Place Search results, with website links to sites like Trip Advisor, Yelp, and Urbanspoon.com. In some cases a full-length review can be seen accompanying the Places Page for a particular hotel or restaurant right on that first page of search results, and for broad searches the new results may even contain a small section of links to neighborhoods or “category” for types of hotels or restaurants to help narrow your search results.

Google’s position is that since consumers are currently performing multiple searches and visiting websites that provide user ratings and reviews, why not make it easier to find a comprehensive view of the area you are searching by offering a new layout with many more relevant links on the first page – often 30 or 40. With user generated content being promoted and highly visible in Places Search, along with additional reviews and links available once a user visits your Places Page, Google is strengthening Its position as the one-stop-shop for all your travel research.

Oh – and let’s not forget Google’s recent acquisition of ITA software, whose QPX™ tool powers airline flight fare searches and comparisons in many websites. I’m going to go ahead and start the clock now, and we’ll see how long it will take for development of a QPX toggle-button which will transform QPX into a comprehensive travel search tool with airline, hotel, car rental, and who knows – theater tickets?