Map out marketing with Google Trips

In this article, I’m going to give a short tour of Google Trips and share my thoughts on how marketers can take advantage of the opportunities that the Google-owned app presents.

Google Trips is ideal for the organised traveller who wants to ditch their Excel spreadsheets and travel document-filled poly pockets in favour of an all-encompassing travel assistance app.

Although the free app hasn’t reached the popularity levels of WhatsApp, Instagram and Google Maps – in my opinion, it still deserves a download.

Google Trips boasts many features – however, four in particular stood out to me, as a marketer:

  • Things to do
  • Day plans
  • Discounts
  • Food & drink
Google Trips Interface

Google Trips Interface

Things to do

The categories displayed in “things to do” are dependent on which city you’re exploring. For example, when viewing what to do in The Hague, the categories were indoors, outdoors and kid friendly.

But when searching in Hanoi, the options were local favourites, temples & shrines and studios & galleries.

Things to do

Things to do

What this shows is that Google is grouping “things to do” into categories that are specifically relevant to the city. Google knows what’s in the area, what’s relevant and what’s popular. And it knows this because this is exactly the same way that Google determines local rankings – by distance, relevance and prominence.

Let’s recap.

Google knows what’s in the area (distance), what’s relevant (relevance) and what’s popular (prominence).

Tip: In order for a business to appear within the “things to do” section of Google Trips, it therefore needs to enhance its presence in local search. One way to do this is to maintain a verified Google My Business listing with as much accurate and detailed information as possible and also to encourage reviews. It goes without saying that the more reviews and the higher the rating, the better.

But don’t just fixate on Google My Business as there are lots more local ranking factors to consider including (but not limited to) high quality relevant links, local citations, on-page presence of NAP data (name, address and phone number) and behavioural signals including click-through rates.

“From around the web” (found within “things to do”)

In one of the latest Google Trips updates, a “from around the web” section was introduced which gives users more content to help them decide if they want to visit the sights suggested by Google. The only content being surfaced at the moment is from YouTube and Blogger and as Google owns both platforms, it would be safe to assume that Google is sticking to the use of its own resources to further enhance the app.

Tip: With this in mind, it’s worthwhile for businesses with a local presence to consider exploring YouTube as part of their marketing strategy. YouTube is after all the second largest search engine. With some optimised and beautifully shot video content that’s targeting the right terms, you should be able to capture a wider audience on both YouTube and Google Trips.

From around the web

From around the web

Day plans

Wiithin each of the “suggested” day plans, Google leverages its business listings and place data to cleverly map out a walkable sightseeing route.

As well as detailing how long it takes to walk between each sight, Google Trips also gives a flavour of how long visitors typically spend at each location. This is information that Google already gathers about businesses and it’s often displayed on Google Maps and organic search results but they’re simply just taking this a step further by quite literally joining the dots.

To get data such as popular time to visit and typical visit duration, Google uses aggregate and anonymised data from users who have opted in to Google Location History.

Tip: Unfortunately, there’s no way of manually adding this information to your location and it can only be displayed if there’s sufficient visit data for your business. So the best tactic here is to increase footfall. There are a number of ways that this can be done – from using location-specific targeting with the use of beacons to using Facebook and Instagram’s hyper-local advertising or implementing an email marketing campaign to drive customers in-store.

Day plans

Day plans

Discounts

Another recently added feature to Google Trips is the option to seek out discounts that are relevant to the trips created by a user. When users select the discount that they’d like, this then takes them directly to the seller’s website where the discount is instantly applied.

Within the app, Google Trips states that “discounts are based on your trips and are provided by Google partners. When you open a discount, the destination and dates of your trip are shared with the partner.”

Equator reached out to a Google representative to find out more about how brands can partner up with Google Trips to start utilising this feature. What we know is that this isn’t connected to promotion ad extensions and it’s currently only being launched with a select few partners. At this stage the only partners are large brands such as Expedia, Urban Adventures, GetYourGuide and Holiday Taxis.

Tip: Although it looks like Google Trips are still testing this feature, it’s definitely something for marketers to keep an eye on. After all, it could be another place for customers to start their booking journey so it’s definitely somewhere worthwhile being present in.

Discounts

Discounts

Food & Drink

“Food & drink” within Google Trips really does what it says on the tin. It lists restaurants, cafes, bars and pubs within the area you’re planning to visit.

Tip: Getting your business to appear here ties back to my earlier point about the importance of local SEO. If local and traditional SEO isn’t part of your marketing strategy then it’s unlikely your business will perform well in either local search results or within Google Trips.

To further confirm this, I explored the “top spots” displayed within the “food and drink” area for 20 different cities and found that all listings had received reviews and a minimum star rating of 3.3 or higher. It’s likely that receiving anything lower than this will hinder your business’ performance.

Food & Drink

Food & Drink

How is traffic from Google Trips measured?

Now that we know how to optimise for Google Trips, it’s important to understand how this traffic is measured. I looked into this for one of our hotel clients and found that if the Google My Business website URL was untagged then the source was pulling through into Google Analytics as “direct” and the medium was “none”.

Tip: In order to attribute this traffic to the right channel (organic), a custom campaign URL needs to be built and added to each Google My Business listing. One way to do this is to set the source to “google”, the medium to “organic” and the campaign name to something along the lines of “glasgow-gmb” (short for Google My Business and only relevant for a Glasgow-based business).

I wouldn’t advise tagging the campaign URL with Google Trips information because business listings can be surfaced in multiple places – from the knowledge graph to Google Maps and Google Trips. Tagging Google My Business URLs is best practice regardless of your goal so I’d recommend implementing this for all business listings.

To summarise…

If you want your local business to perform well in Google Trips, there’s almost no digital marketing channel which should go untouched – from local and YouTube SEO to paid social media and email marketing. After all, in today’s complex marketing ecosystem, there are so many different touch points that customers come into contact with. As marketers, it’s up to us to be present at every stage.

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