How to convert more customers with Google Maps. For FREE !

What is the reason people travel to your hotel?

Your Destination.

Even for Business travelers, they might need to get there to attend an event (meeting, on-site visit with customers, conference), however they usually have some spare time to spend visiting your city or shopping.

In other words, your hotel is one piece of what customers buy as part of their travel deal.

Excluding the business market that mostly book via GDS’s or anyway travel agencies or consortia, the leisure market is essentially what represents most of your website audience and for which your destination represents the main reason they are considering to reserve a room at your hotel.

When a prospect lands on your home page, he’s usually bombarded with tons of call-to-actions that aim to bring him from “just looking” to “reserving a room”.

Essentially, the message a hotel website usually tells, is something like “Buy! Buy! Buy NOW!”.

However, the biggest part of this audience, is simply not ready to buy yet.

Somehow, you need to warm him up a bit and, more importantly, you need to gain his trust first.

The most effective way to do that, is by offering something for FREE, that relates to the reason he/she’s considering staying at your hotel: your Destination.

Translated: A Travel Itinerary.

Walking tour, 2-day Itinerary, 3-day Itinerary, Theme Itinerary, you name it. Whatever you think better fits your prospects’ desires, depending on your location, you can create on your own, in few minutes and without spending a single dime in additional tools, simply using Google Maps.

The final result may look like this (desktop):

desktop-itinerary

And mobile, although a mockup doesn’t represent it well enough.

mobile-itinerary

Google Maps has a relatively hidden feature called Your Places. I have been making use of it for years to plan my travels and found it extremely useful on the way, even in place with poor or no internet connection.

I suggested it to friends, family, colleagues and they all agree it’s just great.

Your Places is nothing different than Google Maps, it’s basically the possibility for anyone to save and pin any point of interests on the map, add any notes that you want for each of them, for example a description and an image, and also track the directions from one place to the other.

For example, this is how it would look like when clicking (desktop) or tapping a point of interest:

desktop-itinerary-point-of-interest

 

Image and description is what I added to make the map more interactive and, essentially, a travel guide too.

START WITH DEFINING YOUR ITINERARIES

Needless to say that you can create as many itineraries as you want and, ideally, one for each language you have one your website.

If your target is predominantly business, you might think of creating a couple of short-itineraries, like 2 or 4 hours.

As for leisure customers, you can easily go for daily tours.

Always think of them as if you were in your ideal customer’s shoes. What kind of things would you love to see? How can you facilitate their planning, in a city they more likely don’t know, visiting things they might be uncertain whether they are worth visit or not.

CREATE OR COLLECT THE CONTENT

Once you have defined your points of interest (POIs), you can either create a short description for each of them or simply copy from other sources.

What I personally do when travelling and creating itineraries on my own, I usually check the online version of the lonely planet, in addition to some description I can grab from the website of the POI I’m interested in.

The internet is full of source and documentation, so this is going to be easy, just make sure you make use of content that in copyleft (as opposed to copyright) that you can then safely use and distribute with your itineraries.

CREATE THE ITINERARIES IN GOOGLE MAPS

As a tech guy, that’s the fun part for me. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Open Google Maps
  2. Menu
    menu-google-maps
  3. Your Places
    your-places
  4. Maps
    maps
  5. At the bottom of the menu, select Create Map
  6. A new page based on Google Maps opens up. After giving it a name, all you have to do now is to enter all your POIs by name or address. Let’s start with your Hotel, which is going to be your customers’ home.
    poi-research
  7. Select Add to map.
  8. After that, the card remains open with a few more custom options for you to go for.
    card-option
  9. Being this your hotel, you can visually represent it with a nice hotel icon. Click on the first option and search for a better icon.
    hotel-icon
  10. Keep on going with all other POIs. Being a map, visual representation is going to be extremely important, so I would suggest you using a different icon color for your hotel, another color for all other POIs, another color for restaurants, for example, and so on.
    different-icon-color
  11. When done and you also want to add the direction from one POI to the next. This will create an additional layer in your agenda, totally independent from the previous one.
    add-directions
  12. From here you can enter again your POIs, with your hotel as the starting point heading to the next stop.
    directions
  13. Everything’s completed. You now just need the itinerary link to share with your prospects. Almost on top, select Share.
    share
  14. In the popup you can copy the link. Before that, just check and eventually adjust who you want the itinerary to be visible for. I recommend to select the option “Anyone with the link”.
    anyone-with-the-link

This is the very first itinerary I created for my hometown, beautiful Bergamo.

PUBLISH THE ITINERARY ON YOUR WEBSITE

Time to make it visible. Here it all depends on what your strategy is. The best way is to use it as a Lead Magnet.

Lead Magnets are being used by many marketers to collect prospects’ email addresses: simple as that, you set up a pop up or a static area on the homepage of your website, where users can access or download something, in exchange of the email address.

At the very beginning though, considering that you might want to give the itinerary away as openly as possible, at least to see how many clicks you get (make sure to have a proper tracking in place), you can consider to leave it open without asking for anything in return.

Here’s an example:

popup

CONCLUSION (& additional tip)

It’s FREE, it takes minutes to set up, it’s sexy, it’s useful. What else?

Here’s what else: google “QR generator”, there are many sites, just pick one. Copy your itinerary link and generate a QR code.

Now open Microsoft Word, paste your newly created QR code, add some headlines and descriptions of what it is, print and place it on your Front Desk: your customers, at check in or any other time during their stay, can simply scan the QR code and your cool itinerary will open up in their mobile phones, ready to be used.

Isn’t it a smart way to boost your customer service too?