In the worldwide search engine market Google is in the lead with a share of 92%! How would it be if potential guests could get in touch with their desired hotel during their Google search? Google My Business Messages already makes this possible: With the message function, guests can send a message to the hotel directly in Google Search or Maps.
What is Google Business Messages?
In 2020, Google introduced a completely new communication channel: Google Business Messages. With this new messaging feature, customers can contact businesses listed in Google Search or Google Maps with just one click. The same goes for travelers looking for the right hotel. With Google Business Messages, potential guests can write a message to their hotel without having to visit the hotel's website. So far, Business Messages are only available for mobile search.
Business Messages in Google Search & Business Messages in Google Maps
Due to the still ongoing pandemic, a change in customer behavior is noticeable: guests who find their hotels via an OTA (Online Travel Agency) first want to find out about the safety and hygiene measures implemented at the hotel. It is therefore not surprising that the hotel is first googled before an actual booking is made.
If a hotel has a Google My Business account (which no hotel should do without), the Google My Business map will appear in Google Search. The map shows various information about the hotel as well as buttons that redirect to the hotel's website, to Google Maps or to contact the hotel. With Google Business Messages, a button now also appears that allows guests to start a direct chat with the hotel.
This works in the same way in Google Maps: if you search for the hotel's location, the hotel profile appears. A chat button is now integrated into this, which guests can use to chat directly with the hotel if they have a question. Guests often have simple but important questions about travel or parking at the hotel. With Google Business Messages, a chat with the hotel can be started directly in Google without much effort. This way, hotels can show their guests that they are always available for questions, no matter where they are.
Let's start with the obvious: it's Google! Google records over 3.5 billion searches a day and over 1.2 billion searches a year (InternetLiveStats).
Moreover, Google has recently not only eliminated hotel booking link fees (Phocuswire), making it a key player in the meta search engine space. Now it offers an easy communication option for hotels and their customers. This means that hotels can connect with potential guests at the earliest possible stage of the Guest Journey and reach even more guests this way. When travelers write to the hotel via Google Search, the hotel gets the opportunity to interact with them directly and convince them of its value - this also applies to upgrades and additional services.
Hotels have two options to integrate Google Business Messages: Either via the Google My Business app - a free option, and therefore probably most interesting for smaller hotels. Or they use a third-party provider like DialogShift, through which hotels can access the Google Business Messages API. This API (interface) integrates a central guest communication platform, making Google an additional chat channel - in addition to the website, Facebook, WhatsApp and the guest app. This allows hotels to use a chatbot and live chat system that integrates with multiple channels.
An AI assistant (hotel chatbot) is available to guests around the clock in more than 100 languages and can, if necessary, hand over requests to hotel staff. The chats from the various channels appear in a central inbox. Messages can be automatically sorted and assigned to the appropriate teams. The traveler is notified via push notifications on his or her cell phone when the team at the front desk has responded.
Overall, hotels can automate up to 90% of guest inquiries through the use of AI and process them faster and more efficiently. And the big advantage for guests: They can contact the hotel easily and quickly at various contact points - whenever and wherever they want.
Currently, the Google Business Messages API is only available through a few select partners, such as DialogShift. Given Google's market power and leading role as a search platform, Google Business Messages will be a game changer for customer communications in the future.
If you are interested in connecting Google My Business Messaging with your hotel, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call.