What hotels should look for in a pay-per-click program

An important feature of sponsored listings is the ability to show only when you have availability for the travel shopper’s travel window. Photo credit: Shutterstock

It’s no secret that pay-per-click marketing is an effective solution for driving traffic and increasing hotels’ visibility in today’s crowded online travel market. PPC has become standard for hotels of all sizes and properties around the world use this type of marketing as their main channel to generate traffic and sell rooms. 

Despite its popularity, not all PPC programs are created equal. Regardless of your current PPC activities, it’s important to know which platforms will deliver the best return on your marketing dollars. So, how can you make sure your programs pay off?

If they’re not already part of your marketing mix, consider starting a sponsored listings program, or, if they are, take a moment to evaluate your current program, with the below characteristics in mind: 

Availability-Connected Advertising

An important feature of your sponsored listings is the ability to show only when you have availability for the travel shopper’s travel window. If your sponsored listing is shown to a travel shopper who is looking for a specific travel window and they click on it only to discover that you have no rooms available, not only have you wasted your advertising dollars, you have alienated a potential customer. To prevent turning away potential guests, make sure your sponsored listings platform can sync with your hotel management software so that your ads are displayed only when you have availability. 

Targeting Relevant Audiences at Scale

You know your ideal audiences best and why they book with you, so you should be targeting your ads accordingly. It’s critical that your sponsored listings platform delivers your ads to the right travel shoppers at the right time. Ideally, it also can provide you with access to those targeted audiences at scale because it’s one thing to strategically target based on key characteristics, but, to be effective, it also must provide you with a scale that exposes your ads to enough travel shoppers. This will help maximize your ad spend and ensure your ads reach the right size audience with a clear intent to purchase. 

Customization is Key 

Travel is not a one-size-fits-all experience, and the approach to your sponsored listings shouldn’t be one size fits all, either. Consumers expect more from how brands engage with them today than ever before. The right sponsored listing solution allows you to customize ad content—copy and imagery—based on the audience you’re trying to target, highlighting your property’s amenities and features that will best appeal to this audience. Choose a platform that allows you to showcase the best of your property in both images and words. 

Account Management

When it comes to executing digital marketing activities, hotel marketers and revenue managers can control when and where they take action on their own. While this self-service approach works most of the time, the ability to get a person on the phone and receive personalized help or advice can bring ease of mind and ensure your marketing activities are being managed appropriately. Live support services, unfortunately, often only provide generic advice and the specialist at the end of the line typically is unfamiliar with the nuances of your market and competitive set. Finding a PPC platform that can provide you with a support consultant who has a deep understanding of your marketing can ensure your digital marketing activities are consistently driving value for you. 

Reporting

Customizing and optimizing your sponsored listings is critical, but if you don’t understand how your ads are performing, it doesn’t matter. That said, going through a multitude of data and reports, some of which may not even be relevant, and interpreting them to find the information you need often is time consuming and confusing. Because we’re not all data scientists, having a sponsored listings platform that offers dynamic reporting that helps you easily evaluate your marketing efforts and provide you with clear business insights becomes a non-negotiable. 

When it comes to your digital marketing mix, there are a lot of options out there, so finding the right sponsored listing solution is imperative to executing a successful pay per click program. An effective solution should be targeted, customizable and can achieve scalable reach, as well as provide you with access to knowledgeable support. It’s no longer just about being flexible and budget-friendly when it comes to ensuring a high return on investment with minimal investment. By determining the right sponsored listing solution for your PPC, you can better reach your marketing goals, drive bookings and maximize your ad spend, regardless of seasonality.

Haley White is director of business development for Expedia Group Media Solutions.

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