Are Google's Free Booking Links better than Paid Booking Links for hoteliers?

Google’s new free booking links most certainly provide hoteliers the chance to reach potential customers beyond Google HPA. Free Booking Links are now available across multiple Google search functions, including Google Maps.

This is great news, right?

Well, we think so but should hotels stop paid media all together on Google meta? This is a question we get from hotels quite often.

Google Paid vs Free Ads

When we look at the micro level data, where hotels ran both Paid and Free Booking Links, the split in received bookings saw at an average 70/30 split.

70% coming from paid media and 30% from Free Booking Links*.

In some cases, the split is 90/10 even where Free Booking Links only performed at a rate of 10%.

Booked Rooms Free vs Paid Google Ads

At the end of the day, hotels don’t survive on percentages or splits, hotels rely on occupied rooms with good average rates. If a hotel ran a paid and free combination advert and usually receives 10 bookings per month, if the same hotel were to simply default to Free Booking Links only – they would witness a drop of 7 bookings.

This is significant to achieving a good occupied rooms rate.

Free rooms booked

Where is the 70% going to?

The short answer is OTAs. Hotels stand to lose traffic usually generated via the paid adverts. Let’s say the hotel’s own website received 10,000 visitors when they ran Paid and Free in combination, by simply running Free Booking Links exclusively their visitor count will drop by 7,000 which will impact the hotels e-commerce, in particular remarketing and retargeting efforts.

Some might ask, are we getting 100% of the OTA share that was generated by my meta search hotel listing?

Very likely not. OTAs typically direct customers to a landing page that promotes more hotels than the hotel searched via Google. Typically OTAs top performing hotels are shown in the same destination which provides the customer with further choices. OTAs may also use their own algorithms to push hotels up the page rankings. The result of which will be that the hotel may not receive 100% of their share of their Google business listing.


So why would hotels run Free Links only?

In a post pandemic environment, budgets constraints and also up to date knowledge on all available option to get the maximum output from media is something hotels are struggling with. There are plenty of options for hotels to run successful paid and free campaigns without any up front budgets.

Marketing Services by DerbySoft have been helping hoteliers for many years get the best out of meta. Get in touch and we’ll show you how.

About Marketing Services by DerbySoft

We’ve been helping the hotel sector for many years to use data and digital to build successful businesses. Competition has never been fiercer, margins never finer and driving bookings never more complex.

Simple marketing activity is not enough. To get the most from your budget; strategies, campaigns and decisions need to be smarter and more accurate.

To achieve this we have built intelligent technologies that will optimise your budget, audience, channels and results; producing multi-channel campaigns that just work, in your hands or in ours. DerbySoft offers digital marketing hotel expertise, enhanced by intelligent technology.

Have any more questions about this topic?

If you would like to see more information or need any specific insights for your hotel country or source market, contact us and we’ll show you how. 

Alternatively, contact Charles Beebee at