Imagine a packed Wembley Stadium filled with your prospects. That’s 90,000 people who have at the very least visited your website for a few minutes all the way through to the people who have stayed with you three or four times – and everyone in between. In short, anyone who has come into contact with your hotel in the last 18 months with a view to booking a room. Now imagine that the advertising boards all the way around the stadium are your ads focusing on your unique selling points, and the benefits of booking direct. The cost for this is approx. £300. Would you do it?

If the answer is no, then the Direct Method for all its proven benefits won’t help you to get more direct bookings!

Hopefully you can see that this would be a complete no-brainer. This analogy (short of your prospects actually sitting in a stadium together) is precisely what Google Remarketing allows you to do.

For the unacquainted, one can advertise on Google a multitude of ways. Most think that ‘search’ is the only platform in the hotel industry, which is the process of bidding on keywords (or search terms) to have your text ad appear at the top of Google. To use a basic example, when someone types in ‘hotels in London’ and you’re bidding on that keyword, your ad may appear, and you only pay when a user clicks on your ad. Hence the term pay-per-click.

Effective use of this form of advertising is a complex, ever-changing science and must be managed very carefully to create return on investment. Done incorrectly by someone who is inexperienced in Google AdWords can be a very fast way to lose a lot of money. (I’m proud to say that the wider DHM team are one of the best at it, winning the Google Global Award for Growing Businesses Online in New York in 2017, beating 1,100 marketing agencies from 58 countries to the top prize, but I digress!)

Another form of advertising is to run image or animated ads across Google’s ‘display network’ which is literally a selection of billions of ad spaces across millions of websites across the Internet. Any ad you see with a little triangle and an ‘x’ in the top right-hand corner of the ad is a Google Remarketing ad.

The difference is that these ads have nothing to do with the user visiting Google.com and everything to do with them visiting your website. The technical term is to ‘drop a cookie on their web browser’. This allows your ads to ‘follow’ the user around the Internet for a period of up to 540 days or approx. 18 months. The most beautiful part is that it is incredibly cheap. Depending on the amount of traffic your website receives, you will be unlikely to exceed £25 per month on this form of advertising. For this investment, you’ll likely be advertising 20,000-30,000 times ONLY to the people that have visited your website.

In my experience, the average number of website unique users is 5,000 per month for an independent hotel. If you have Google Remarketing running for the maximum cookie duration of 540 days (18 months) then after this time, you will have approx. 90,000 unique individuals (neatly the exact capacity of Wembley Stadium) seeing your ads at a cost of £25 per month.

It gets better though. More often than not if you set up a new Google AdWords account, you will receive £75 worth of free credit after spending an initial £25 – so your year one cost is more likely to be £225.

Whilst anyone can see that this form of advertising represents high value for the volume of targeted prospects you can get in front of, I would argue that the most important reason your hotel should be using it is because in the last decade of my hotel marketing experience, I can honestly say I’ve come across fewer than 10 hotels that are running Google Remarketing campaigns to good effect. This form of advertising is so underused in our industry which means that your hotel would have a distinct advantage over your competitors and the OTAs (Online Travel Agents) by using it.

One of the core benefits of Google Remarketing is that you can advertise (for free!) on some of the largest websites in the world, often on the front page of these websites. For years I’ve been using GoodHousekeeping.co.uk as a perfect example as the ad space on the front page of their website is four or five times bigger than the Good Housekeeping logo! Hotels are often stunned to see how my DHM ad is sat pride of place on such a prestigious website, smack-bang in the middle of the page. The next time you see a Booking.com ad following you around whilst you’re browsing the Internet (perhaps remarketing your own hotel back at you), remember that it’s not their deep pockets that allows them to do it. And let’s face it, Booking.com are the experts at selling hotel rooms – they sell more than anyone else in the world – if they’re using remarketing, your hotel probably should too.