In a world where we use Google for almost everything, it was inevitable that we’d eventually entrust it with our travel plans, too.
Google quickly picked up on this (because, they’re Google) and in 2017 Reserve with Google was launched, allowing people to search, book, and pay for just about anything travel-related directly from Google Search, Maps, or the Google Reserve search bar.
It provided an easy, end-to-end solution for travel and tourism professionals to get their business in front of millions, while allowing Google to handle the booking and payment process.
Google Things to do takes over Google Reserve
Realizing a way to optimize this service, (because that’s what Google does) the tech giant launched Google Things to do in the summer of 2021, essentially replacing Google Reserve.
What is Google Things To Do?
Like Google Reserve, Things To Do functions as a way to connect travel and leisure search queries with businesses and venues that provide relevant services.
Users can access the Things To Do search bar within Google’s Travel App. Type in a locale and Google works its magic by delivering all there is to see and do in the following categories:
- Top sites
- Top sites by interest (local favorites, kid-friendly, arts and culture, history, museums, outdoors)
- Top experiences
- Notable neighborhoods
- Travel articles
Each listing features ratings and reviews, operating hours, and web results link, which takes users to a SERP featuring the official Google My Business Page of the selected listing at the top.
Additionally, any Google search query on a particular destination will feature a ‘Things To Do’ section embedded within the SERP. Each listing features ratings, operating hours, a short description, and a list of ticket prices from various companies that offer this activity as a standalone product or as a component of a larger tour package.
How is it different from Google Reserve?
The replacement of Google Reserve with Things To Do brings three major changes for professionals throughout the travel and leisure industry.
A revamped customer journey
The biggest change is that once users click on a link from the ‘tickets’ list, instead of booking directly with Google, users are taken to a landing page of the respective partner’s website. Here, businesses can display package options as well as other services users may be interested in based on their query.
More marketing and upselling opportunities
Since Google Things To Do connects users directly to business websites for booking, operators can capitalize on the increased traffic in a variety of ways that we’ll dive into below.
Greater dependence on ads
Google Things To Do also offers participating businesses paid advertising options. Relevant search queries will trigger these ads to appear at the top of the SERP. This will be vital as increased competition to be listed within the free booking links will create a need for businesses to stand out from the crowd.
How does Google Things To Do benefit tours and activities operators?
Google Things To Do opens up more avenues for businesses to be discovered through The Things To Do search bar within the Google Travel App, as well as the Things To Do section found near the top of the SERP.
Additionally, because businesses can now offer package options for standalone products, you can optimize the booking link of a single package to appear in multiple search results.
Increased website traffic
With Things To Do, Google not only makes it possible for your business to appear in more searches, it also directs users straight to your business website or landing page via the booking button. And businesses can leverage the increase in traffic in multiple ways.
Firstly, you can optimize your booking links for upselling by creating packages or related products targeted to the search query.
Secondly, with more users visiting your website, you get offers in front of more eyes and can capture user contact information for emails and newsletters.
Thirdly, larger traffic volume gives you more data on audience demographics and profiles. Are your booking links attracting more males than females? More seniors than students? More users based out of Asia rather than Europe? With a larger amount of data to analyze, you will be able to draw clearer conclusions to base your marketing strategy on.
Finally, along with marketing strategy, capturing user data helps create remarketing lists with the intent of boosting ads campaigns.
Higher revenue potential
Assuming you’ve got a viable marketing strategy, greater visibility and website traffic will lead to revenue growth in the form of increased average transaction values and improved ROI.
For example, Jill and Nick are on a two-week trip to Greece. With only a few days in Athens before visiting the islands, they want to make the most of their time in the capital.
A search for ‘Athens Acropolis’, brings up your company’s booking link for admission tickets. While scrolling through your page, they discover tours of other sites on their to-see list, and realize they’d save money by booking a larger package. They also come across a wine-tasting tour in Santorini, and an excursion to Delos island from Mykonos.
And just like that, a search for two €10 standard admissions tickets became a €1000+ booking. While every booking won’t be so profitable, Google Things To Do allows you to optimize your content to capitalize on meeting customer needs through targeted upselling opportunities.
Finally, with increased traffic allowing better data collection and analysis as well as greater remarketing opportunities, you can make the most of your marketing and ads budget, resulting in improved ROI.
What does the shift to Google Things To Do mean for the travel and leisure industry?
The changes mentioned above carry four primary implications for professionals within the travel and leisure industry.
Updating and maintaining relevant content is crucial
Just as before, tour and activity operators will need to adhere to best SEO practices. However, keeping a close watch on the market will be equally, if not more important. You should ensure your Google My Business page is up to date in order to rank well.
Because Google will only include a limited number of booking links, businesses must determine when it’s optimal to feature booking links offering single-activity products as opposed to packages. This leads to our next point…
Package offerings and pricing strategies are key
Google shifting the booking process directly to business websites means that keeping up with current market trends and making data-based decisions is paramount.
Each booking link leads to a more detailed product or package page typically featuring other related services/products that customers may be interested in. Thus, monitoring products/packages, traffic, SEO, and conversion rates will be critical to success.
Booking systems need to be user friendly
User clicks on booking link. They like what they see on the landing page. Now they’re ready to book. What could possibly go wrong? An over-complicated booking process.
Tour operators will need to ensure that their online booking system is fast, simple, and dependable. Otherwise, all marketing efforts will lie in ruins among a landscape of abandoned carts and page bounces.
Tour operators will be more dependent on Restech providers
With a need for more sophisticated content management, SEO/data analysis, and a top-notch online booking system, tour and activity operators will have to devote an extraordinary amount of time on creating, monitoring, and managing listings and bookings.
This change has made restech providers more in demand than ever before, making smaller tour and activities companies more vulnerable without the assistance of proper restech software.
How do you connect with Google Things To Do?
Because registering with Google Things To Do requires a complex integration process, Google highly recommends partnering with a sponsored restech provider to assist with the large data transfer and other technical configurations.
We’re glad to announce Regiondo is one of the restech providers that connect with Google Things To Do so you can make the most of this new and exciting channel. Talk to one of our product experts to learn more.
Google’s move from Reserve to Things To Do is one of the most significant developments within the travel and leisure industry over the last few years. Here are the biggest changes tour and activity businesses need to adapt to.
- Companies, rather than Google, now handle all bookings via direct links to their business websites.
- Expanded search visibility means increased competition and therefore, a greater need for paid ads.
- Integration with the new system requires a complex configuration which Google recommends be handled by restech providers.
Regiondo makes it easy to generate leads and increase bookings with Google Things To Do
We’re proud to team up with Google Things To Do as a registered connectivity partner and are beyond pleased with the results our customers are already seeing with the new interface. Let us help your business experience the same success — see how easy it is with our free demo.