Google’s new Performance Max feature boosts bookings for hoteliers

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Last month, Google unveiled a new campaign format for hoteliers, called Performance Max for travel goals. The new AI-powered feature automatically creates and delivers ads across Google properties, helping hoteliers maximise visibility across Search, Maps, YouTube and more.

Early testing shows Performance Max for travel goals is increasing bookings and other conversion goals for hoteliers. So let’s take a closer look at the new Google Ads feature and how it can help travel brands.

Travel is bouncing back in 2023

Global air travel is expected to bounce back to pre-pandemic levels by mid-2023 as Chinese tourists take to the sky again. While Asia is expected to drive the final stage of recovery, key markets in Europe and North America helped restore 70% of air traffic in 2022.

At the same time, domestic travel is still benefiting from new attitudes to travelling. According to insights from Going, 46% of travellers expect to travel more domestically in 2023 and 39% plan to continue travelling domestically the same amount. Meanwhile, 60% of travellers plan to take more international trips this year.

Plans to travel for 2023 compared to 2022

Google understands that travel’s 2023 bounceback brings opportunities and challenges for brands. Google insights reveal that 40% of leisure travellers say they now invest more time and effort planning trips than before the pandemic.

This makes visibility more important than ever for hotels and other travel brands during the research and booking journey.

Google says hoteliers need easier ways to stand out and connect with people searching for travel options across its ecosystem. To help with this, it is rolling out Performance Max for travel goals to all hotel advertisers.

Need help? Speak to our travel team today

What is Performance Max for travel goals?

Performance Max for travel goals is a new campaign format in Google Ads designed for hoteliers. It aims to help hotels and other short-stay accommodation businesses promote themselves across multiple Google properties without manually creating ads for each one.

So, instead of creating ads for Google Search, Google Maps, YouTube and other placements, you can create one campaign with Performance Max for travel goals. This campaign format will, then, create ads for you and deliver them across properties on your behalf.

“Powered by Google’s AI, Performance Max for travel goals helps you easily expand your hotel’s reach and drive more direct bookings across Google. With one easy-to-set-up campaign, you can reach people in the important moments when they’re planning their trips.”

Performance Max for travel goals creates ads in multiple formats that automatically serve across Google channels. The system uses AI to show ads across Google Search, Maps, YouTube and Hotel Ads as travellers move between channels.

Performance Max hotel ads

This is designed to make you visible at key moments as users research throughout the research and booking journey.

Travellers may get their initial inspiration from YouTube Videos and move to Google Search to find out more information. Next, they could hit Google Maps to find out more about specific locations and head back to YouTube to look for travel videos covering places of interest.

Once travellers have a plan in mind, they’ll probably start looking for flights and hotels on platforms like Google Travel. Performance Max for travel goals automatically delivers ads to users as they progress through this kind of journey.

“With one simple setup, it helps you create ads in multiple formats that will automatically serve across Google channels and inventory.”

As travellers spend more time planning their trips online, this brings opportunities and challenges for travel brands. While each added touchpoint adds more potential opportunities, they also increase the workload required to cover the whole customer journey. This is especially challenging for smaller travel brands that may not have the resources to manage campaigns across the funnel.

Performance Max for travel goals provide a fully automated, AI-powered alternative for building visibility without the manual workload.

Where do Performance Max ads show?

Performance Max ads can show across Google Search, Display, YouTube, Discover, Gmail and Maps. Google has also said it will add Hotel ads to Performance Max campaigns later this year.

How does Performance Max for travel goals work?

Performance Max for travel goals campaigns are designed to help hotels reach their target audiences across every Google advertising channel with a single setup. You can find out how to set up your first Performance Max campaign from this Google Ads Help page.

The following video also provides a step-by-step run through:

The campaign format automatically creates ads for you, using pre-populated creative assets (images, headlines, descriptions and URLs). So you’ll need all of these assets in place for the campaign format to function.

The easiest way to do this is to link your Hotel Center feed to Google Ads, if you haven’t done so already. Follow these instructions if you haven’t yet linked the two properties.

Setting up hotel ads in Google Performance Max

During campaign setup, simply pick your hotel properties from a map using our hotel picker tool. Then, the campaign will create ads from your pre-populated assets for every ad format. You can edit any of these pre-populated assets at any time or upload your own. To create your first Performance Max for travel goals campaign, follow these steps:

  1. In your Google Ads account, on the left-side menu, click Campaigns.
  2. Click the plus button (+), then select New campaign.
  3. Select Sales as your campaign objective.
    Note: Both the Sales objective and the Without a goals guidance objective will trigger the hotel selection module for Performance Max for travel goals campaigns, but the Sales objective is recommended as a best practice. Other goal types aren’t compatible at this time.
  4. Scroll down, then choose the purchase conversion goals.
    Best Practice: It’s possible to have other goals in the campaign, for example, phone calls or leads. However, we recommend only using purchase goals in a Performance Max for travel goals campaign.
    Note: Store visit goals are incompatible with Performance Max for travel goals campaigns.
  5. Select Performance Max as campaign type, then select Hotels in the What are you advertising? section.
    Note: If you don’t find a Hotel option, this implies the account has not met the prerequisites to run a Performance Max for travel goals campaign. Learn how to Get started with Performance Max for travel goals campaigns.
  6. Select the preferred Hotel property feed source. The options for selecting hotel properties when creating Performance Max for travel goals campaigns are as follows:
    – Select an existing data feed or create a new data feed in the Google Ads campaign creation flow. – – This allows you to select hotels from our hotel picker.
    – You can add up to 100 hotels per campaign.

If you run into any issues with this, refer to the official Google Ads Help documentation

Request a call from our travel PPC specialists

Once you’re set up, all you need to do is set your budget threshold and Google’s AI system handles the day-to-day stuff. It automatically sets bids, selects the most effective placements and chooses the best assets to create your ads.

IMPORTANT: Performance Max campaigns should always be overlooked by a PPC specialist to ensure they continually support your objectives over time.

What results are advertisers getting from Performance Max for travel goals?

Based on early testing, Google has found advertisers using Performance Max achieve over 18% more conversions at a similar cost per action.

You’ll find two mini case studies on Google’s announcement post for Performance Max, detailing how Minor Hotels and Corissia Hotels & Resort have used the campaign format with great success.

“An international hotel chain called Minor Hotels, headquartered in Bangkok, Thailand, manages a diverse range of over 500 hotels, resorts, and branded residences across six continents… they leveraged Performance Max for travel goals to accelerate their campaign creation process… enabling them to reduce their cost per acquisition by 51%, elevate their return on ad spend by 76%, and increase their bookings by 86%.”

In the case of Corissia Hotels & Resort, the company had doubled its overall capacity during the previous three years. As a result, it needed a way to scale up its advertising strategy to increase bookings and revenue. Manually ramping up its advertising strategy would have involved a lot of manual input but Performance Max provided an automated alternative.

“They used Performance Max for travel goals to expand their distribution channels and reach more potential guests. Within one month, their Performance Max for travel goals campaigns yielded a 32% increase in revenue and a 26% increase in total direct bookings.”

Google says it will add new features to Performance Max throughout this year, which could enhance performance further. It’s already teased a new audience signals feature that will “use data hotels share in their Business Profile to continue helping you find potential guests”.

To keep up to date with the latest developments, you can subscribe to Google’s travel partners newsletter.

Need help with Performance Max for travel goals?

If you need help setting up Performance Max for travel goals campaigns or improving the results of your travel marketing strategy, in general, our team can help. Call us on 02392 830 281 or send us your details and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

James Faulkner profile picture
James Faulkner

James has led Vertical Leap’s PPC team since early 2012, and is responsible for ensuring the effective and efficient delivery that our customers relish. He has a wealth of experience, having managed PPC campaigns across all markets and platforms for more than 15 years, and manages a thriving team of experts. An ecommerce specialist, he loves the data driven nature of PPC. After achieving a BEng degree in Mechanical Engineering at university, he applied his strong problem-solving and mathematical skillset to paid advertising, where he can optimise and analyse the complexities of click and conversion data. James can very quickly identify and solve any hurdles surrounding a PPC campaign to ensure quick wins, successful results and ongoing ROI. James loves his motorbike, brewing, and camping in all weathers; but spends virtually all his weekends sailing his sea fishing boat around the Isle of Wight not managing to catch anything to feed his family.

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