Google Brings Changes, Challenges and Opportunities

Director of Research and Online Marketing
Published 7/3/18
Share This Post: 

Share This:

As part of US Travel's ESTO Webinar Series, Miles highlights how destinations & their industry partners can enhance their presence across Google for free

A version of this blog by the author first appeared on US Travel’s ESTO Blog in May 2018.

Over the last couple of years, Google has been quickly evolving both search and its travel related platforms. These enhancements have created challenges and opportunities for the travel industry. Google notes this evolution is in response to changing travel behavior and technology shifts.  In addition, new technologies and the power of artificial intelligence has spurred the growth of voice search, intelligent assistants, smart speakers and more. This is a trend that is beginning to change how we conduct and interact with travel related searches and content.

In this blog, we highlight some of these changes and what this means for destination marketing organizations (DMOs) and tourism businesses of all types.

  • In search results, Google has introduced Quick Answers which summarizes the information a user is looking for in curated content areas such as “Top Sights” or “Things to Do.”
  • Across a wide range of searches, another search result called the “Knowledge Panel” also appears (illustrated in the Bermuda image).
  • Google has also introduced new travel related products such as the new Travel Guide and a Google Trips app.

Because of many of these initiatives, the available screen space for organic search results has decreased significantly reducing click-through. As outlined in a blog post on DMO Organic Site Traffic, for the first time, organic search traffic is either flat or down year over year for many destinations and tourism businesses.

In light of this rapidly changing search ecosystem, Miles has been in communication with Google for almost 2 years now and for the last 12+ months has been supporting Google in the roll out of a new set of solutions for DMOs and their industry partners.

The Google DMO Partnership Program was launched last July in Montreal at the Destinations International Annual Convention in a session co-presented with Miles Partnership.  This groundbreaking new global program for DMOs allows them to review and contribute content on their destinations across Google's platforms. More than 40 destinations have since participated across multiple countries – contributing content updates, holding educational industry sessions and uploading thousands of images and videos (including Street View 360) of their destination. This content has generated tens of millions of views and at zero media cost to the DMOs. 

The new Posts on Google platform is included in this program and provides an opportunity for DMOs to post news, events and updates for free directly into the Knowledge Panel for their destination. On May 23, Miles ran a webinar introducing this for DMOs along with Google’s Product Manager for Posts on Google, Aditya Mahesh. Resources from this webinar and information on applying for a free Posts on Google account are available on our website.

The Google DMO Partnership Program also includes exciting new opportunities to capture and share enhanced content experiences, including a whole new world of Street View 360 imagery. Highlighted in a guest speaker spotlight during our recent “The State of the American Traveler: Technology Edition” webinar, new street view cameras offer ultra-high definition (4K or 8K) that is far easier to capture and upload for little or no cost. Street View cameras start at $400 but are also available on a free loan program from Google.

All of the solutions offered within the Google DMO Partnership Program are completely free from Google to DMOs and their industry partners, however Miles does provide expert support service to assist in auditing your presence, developing content strategies or providing training and educational support for both your organization and industry.

In our webinar on June 28, Chris Adams, CA Clark and Kim Palmer of Miles Partnership summarized a range of simple free steps any DMO or tourism business can and should be doing to enhance their presence on Google. They shared insights that are useful to both DMOs and tourism businesses in addition to contact details for those wishing to find out more or to get enhanced support. Check out this webinar for useful tips on how you can review, update and enhance your presence across Google for free!

For more information on the Google DMO Partnership Program and Miles Partnership’s set of services, visit www.MilesPartnership.com/GoogleDMOProgram.

For more information on Posts on Google, visit www.milespartnership.com/GooglePosts.