By Pablo Delgado and César López.
On the first part of this serie we analyzed the problem: in this one, the options you have to solve it.
Alternative 1: Also advertise yourself
It is a common occurrence nowadays. The hotel chains and the more advanced, independent hotels have already accepted the need to invest in advertising their website, in the same way that they pay for this through intermediaries.
That investment has a well-known return, very accurately measurable and above all, acceptable in the majority of cases, lower than the typical costs of intermediaries, which we have studied some months ago.
Google charges its advertisements based on the number of companies willing to pay. Like the intermediaries that you have hired they willingly pay. Competition is established through bidding.
Have you recently hired new intermediaries to fight against the recession? You should know that they have a negative effect in Adwords: they make the advertisements more expensive when they search for your hotel, including those that you directly carry out, without bringing you new demand:
Alternative 2: Prevent the advertisements in a friendly way
Be careful with the contracts that you sign. They usually include things like:
Pooking.com and its affiliates have the right, only for the purposes of merchandising, promotional and reception of hotel reservations, to use the names, logos, trademarks and hotel photos taken from the official website as well as personally obtained.
Or even this:
Espiria has the right to promote the hotel using its name(s) for the purposes of online marketing, including marketing via e-mail and pay per click (PPC) publicity.
You should avoid this and ask that they modify the contract so that you reserve the right to deny certain uses of your name.
Are you already tied down by contract?
Then ask them in a friendly way. Get in contact with them. It is important that they see that you are decided and that you know the rules.
To avoid delays and the exchange of unnecessary e-mails, we recommend, when making your request, that you provide all the possible information as well as 2-3 screenshots with clear examples. For example:
To those it may concern at Pooking.com
I would be very grateful if you could stop investing in Adword advertisements for searches using the name of my hotel.
This situation is not in accordance with point 1 published by the European Association of Hotels in its benchmark of fair practices* with online distribution. I am sure a company with your level of prestige will understand the need to respect this fact which you can read in the referenced document.
You will rapidly see the differences between intermediaries following their responses:
•“Yes”. There are those that, although they do not like it, they will understand your opinion and they will carry out your request. They are usually the minority but the most professional and serious. According to our knowledge, it appears to be the case of Booking.com.
•“No”. Those that do not agree with you whatsoever responding with vague or absurd excuses knowing that they call the shots due to having a signed contract.
•They ignore you. Those that don’t even respond, clearly hoping that you quit requesting and forget about the issue.
And when the following is the answer?
Dear customer, thank you for the screenshots. We can see that there are links sponsored by other companies apart from the hotel website. We can therefore not do anything since we are not the only ones. Kind regards. (Exact text from a real response).
Request that they stop the advertisements for a period of time (4-6 weeks) in such a way that it gives you time to contact all the other channels to request the same. It is a lot of work to keep insisting but at least it is an intermediate outlet.
Remember that you can not demand anything. You have signed a contract. When renewing the contract you will call the shots again.
Advertisements by companies that you have not hired
It is a very common situation due to the ignorance and chaos that has been generated in the sector. You must correct it in the same way although you have less means. It is less problematic than the previous case because for these companies it is more difficult to get a return on these investments due to relying on lower margins. There are three very different cases:
1, Websites that bid on your name/trademark offering bedrooms and confirmed reservations
Galahotels.com? Is it offering your hotel and you don’t know who it is? They are affiliates of some intermediary or IDS you were working with. Booking.com or Expedia have thousands. Discover who is behind it, perhaps making yourself a fictitious reservation that you can cancel.
Get in contact with the intermediary that you hired.
2, Websites that bid on your name/trademark but do not offer reservations but rather other services like price comparison or customer evaluations.
Trivago, Kayak,Tripadvisor… They do not directly sell but they do connect with dozens of intermediary websites and charge big commissions in exchange. They behave like affiliates although technically they are not.
Directly demand that they stop.
You will come across responses like this: “Your hotel is on the internet and therefore I have the right to advertise it”.
Due to not having hired anybody nor being able to close sales with them, the solution is not easy and it goes through a legal process which we will now speak about. Comparing how they deal with certain hotels and others, it is clear that they have different policies. There are hotels with which they make clear exceptions (and they make generic advertisements or they directly stop making advertisements) while with others they shamelessly bid on the name of the hotel.
3, Websites that offer another product that is not your hotel (this action is prohibited by law. We will not deal with this category, we recommend that you speak with them and, if this does not work, report them).
Alternative 3: Directly block the advertisements
Statement of the advertising policies by Adwords:
“Google recognises the importance of the commercial trademarks. The Terms and conditions of AdWords prohibits the infringement of copyright on behalf of the advertisers. The advertisers are therefore responsible for both the key words they choose to create advertisements and the text they use in them”.
Therefore any business that has a registered trademark has the right to notify Google and prohibit the use of said trademark in paying advertisements.
This includes, since it is the only way, all the cases we have spoken of, hired intermediaries, affiliates, price comparison websites, review and competence websites. They are all treated the same.