Prepare for Google's ‘Things to do’ and drive more Direct Bookings

Google’s 'Things to do' program impacts how tours, activities, and attractions are discovered and booked through Google.

John O'Leary, (Manager at Insider Tour) explained the benefit of joining the program; “Before joining the program, we relied heavily on Online Travel Agencies to promote our products on Google. Now, we have the power to publish our products under multiple Points of Interests’ search results, increasing the opportunity for conversion of our customer audience at a straightforward click of a button."

Previously, operators could not display their direct website in Google’s list of ticket options. Instead, when consumers clicked on the ticketing links, they were taken to a reseller’s website, where every sale would mean up to 30% commission off the top. Now, Google’s ‘Things to do’ program brings the control of content, pricing, and distribution back to operators with fewer middlemen and costs. 

Livn is Google’s global official connectivity partner helping you add your listing within this very high-profile space. No commission, transaction fee, or cost-per-click. Instead, there is a flat monthly publishing fee. But to leverage this opportunity fully, operators should ensure their online offering and customer experience is ready. 

Here is 5 ways operators can prepare for ‘Things to do’ and drive more direct bookings:

1. Build and update your online booking platform

To take part in Google’s ‘Things to do’, operators must facilitate online bookings. But it is more than this, travellers booked more tours and attractions online in 2021 than in 2019 according to Arival’s Distribution Report. This means it is essential to update and test your booking platform, so you are not losing customers due to poor experience. 

2. Make it mobile-ready 

According to the same report by Arival, mobile bookings made the most significant jump between 2019 and 2021 than any other booking method. This is partly because consumers are becoming more technologically confident thanks to the increased digitisation from the pandemic. 

But, what is the most crucial reason to make sure you are mobile-ready? Within 48 hours of last-minute searches that include ‘today’ or ‘tonight’ on Google, 72% of mobile bookings happen. By combining a seamless mobile experience with Google ‘Things to do’, you are more likely to capitalise on last-minute bookings. 

3. Utilise SEO 

From a marketing perspective, ranking higher in Google Search results creates organic traffic on top of Google’s ‘Things to do’ offering. But to do this, your website needs to be optimised. 

One of the ways to do this is to produce high-quality content like videos, blogs, and attractive descriptions of your products that speak precisely to what travellers want right now. As travellers are specifically looking for new experiences in 2022 and beyond, give them a taste of wanderlust through videos and imagery across your social media. Doing this will create another traffic stream to add to the growing list.

4. Instill confidence

Long-haul trips are lucrative for tour operators and carry the most risk due to COVID-19 complexity. Offering or creating packages in countries with fewer restrictions or giving travellers flexibility can give them the confidence to book long-haul again. Ensure your website is straightforward and gives them the peace of mind that they will not have to deal with any complexity. 

5. Adopt a new distribution strategy 

With Livn acting as a pipeline between operators and Google, claiming the “Official Site” button should bring direct bookings to the top of your distribution strategy. This allows operators of any size to step away from the traditional distribution which favoured OTA's or resellers and regain control over their products. 

With the proper preparation and Livn’s partnership, operators can drastically increase direct traffic and leverage this into bookings with Google’s ‘Things to do’ program. Register now.