Are you a Hotel?

Google and the Digital Market Act (DMA): what has changed?

Publication date: April 2024

The Digital Markets Act (DMA), implemented by the European Commission, establishes a set of rules aimed at fostering fair competition and consumer choice by opening up digital markets. Within the DMA framework, digital platforms can be classified as “gatekeepers” if they act as intermediaries between businesses and consumers in connection with essential platform services. This has impacted several internet giants, including Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and Apple. Google has already made changes to comply with the DMA, particularly in vertical searches, and the travel industry has seen a noticeable change in the way its information is presented on Google’s search results pages.
Have you noticed any differences yet? Let’s take a closer look.

1. Expanded search filters

The first change is visible at the top of the results page, where additional filters have been incorporated, including the dates of stay, which are no longer displayed in the hotel ads section.

Google and the Digital Market Act (DMA): what has changed? 0
2. A new “Places sites” section

Google’s latest SERP update provides enhanced aggregator units and refinement chips, aiming to simplify user access to top results for their queries. The introduction of the Places sites section is particularly beneficial for those seeking accommodation options such as hotels in specific destinations. This section aggregates hotel content sourced from reputable online travel agencies (OTAs), metasearch platforms, and trusted local guides, all carefully selected in accordance with European Commission standards. It’s worth noting that while this feature provides comprehensive information, it primarily relies on content from intermediaries rather than from hotels directly, limiting the visibility of official hotel websites.

3. A “Lodging” feature for hotel discovery

Another change is the introduction of the Lodging feature, which appears when searching for “hotel” plus a location (e.g. “hotel in London”). The page features sponsored listings, followed by an organised list of businesses. By clicking on the price, the Google My Business profile of the selected listing opens on the side. This new feature means it’s more important than ever to optimise your Google My Business profile and share your direct rates with Google, emphasising this with advertising activities. It’s also interesting to note how, within the boundaries imposed by the DMA, Google is moving towards a more visual search experience, with the steadily increasing introduction of image carousels both in organised search and paid search listings.

Google and the Digital Market Act (DMA): what has changed? 0
4. More and diversified review sources

In response to the criteria established by the DMA, there has been a significant diversification in hotel review sources. Now, alongside Google’s own review system, platforms such as TripAdvisor and OTAs such as Booking.com are seamlessly integrated, offering users a broader spectrum of ratings. It is worth noting that this shift harks back to Google’s earlier practices. Savvy users may recall that as early as 2018, Google was already incorporating information from Booking.com and TripAdvisor, as evidenced in various articles.

Google and the Digital Market Act (DMA): what has changed? 0
How will this affect my hotel?

As these changes were introduced less than a month ago, it’s difficult to tell what impact they’ll have on hotel performance. However, we at Blastness did not notice any significant change in comparison to last year, nor in the impact of PPC campaign turnover on official website revenue or in the shares of OTA and official websites on total digital revenue.
While we will keep you updated on future developments, it is essential to adopt a strong paid advertising strategy. With Google giving more visibility to OTA and website comparators, it is vital to leverage digital marketing to stay competitive and drive visits to the official sales channel.

Blastness can support you with a risk-free formula guaranteeing a return on investment.