A Brief Guide to Hotel & Resort Pay-Per-Click (PPC)

By: O'Rourke Hospitality Team

Pay-Per-Click advertising, often called “PPC” for short, are ads that appear at the top or on the side of a search engine like Google, Bing or Yahoo. There is also display advertising, or banner ads. These are small advertisements that appear on various websites in the form of different size banners.

Advertisers set up advertising campaigns with the ultimate goal of having a user click on their ad. The search engine gets paid every time a user clicks on the ad, hence the name “pay-per-click”.

Why It’s Important

PPC affords your hotel the opportunity to capture potential bookings and customers where a major portion of your audience is conducting research on their next accommodation. It’s also important to note that many Online Travel Agencies (OTA), like Expedia, invest in PPC campaigns, often for the names of your own hotel!

The best part of a PPC campaign is that you can directly drive user action, whether it’s a contact form or booking a room. And, the results can be tracked down to the smallest detail. This is important for proving that a PPC campaign is providing a good ROI.

Setting Up Campaigns

You can use web-based programs like Google AdWords or Bing Ads. Setting up a PPC campaign can take quite a bit of time, so be patient, here are a few things to think about as you get started.

Figure out Your Audiences and Goals

Your first task is to figure out whom you are going to target and what you want those users to do. Do you want to target users who are searching for your brand and make them an offer? Do you want to target users who are searching for your hotel’s location? Maybe you want to target both of these and much more. You should separate these into campaigns and groups, so that they are similar and you can easily figure out what works and what doesn’t.

Keywords

After you’ve identified your audience and separated them into campaigns and groups, you need to do some keyword research and identify which search terms you will target. For example, do you want your ad to show up when someone searches for “hotel in new york”?

Ads and Ad Copy

After you’ve identified the keywords for your campaign, it’s time to write some ads or come up with images you’ll use as banner ads to serve in your campaign. With banner or image ads, there are predefined requirements for size

With text ads, there is the headline, line 1, line 2 and the display URL. There are predefined requirements for these as well. Keep in mind that the headline should match what the user is searching for and line 1 and 2 should be used to provide a benefit statement and a call to action. The display URL is the URL where the user will go to if he/she clicks on the ad.

Don’t forget to set the destination URL for both text and display ads. This is where the user will actually go when the ad is clicked.

Campaign Settings

Something to keep in mind is your campaign(s) settings. You can set how many dollars per day you’d like to spend, how much you want to bid for keywords, when you want your ads to run, on what type of devices your ads should show on, what geographic locations you want your ads to show in, etc.

Measuring Performance

When measuring performance of your campaigns, there are a few metrics that people typically look at, and that you’ll see talked about often. Here’s a quick look at some of them:

  • Click-Through-Rate (CTR): Percentage of clicks in relation to the number of impressions. Higher is better.
  • Conversions: Actions users have taken. You determine what constitutes an “action”. It could be visiting a page, filling out a form, etc.
  • Clicks: Self-explanatory.
  • Impressions: Number of times an ad has shown up or a keyword has been searched for where your ad showed up.
  • Cost-Per-Click (CPC): Average cost for every click you receive.
  • Revenue: You can add revenue tracking to your PPC campaign, that way you can track how much money your spending and how much you’re bringing in.

Testing

One of the biggest things to remember with a PPC campaign is to test, test and test some more. Whether it’s switching settings of your campaign, including new keywords or writing new ads, it’s important to try new things. We generally have a good idea of what will work and what won’t work, but not every tactic will work the same for every hotel. That’s why it’s important to test and make changes, however small, accordingly.

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