Booking.com Bidding Restrictions – What Exactly Are They?

What are the Booking.com Bidding Restrictions that have been removed?

You may have received an email by Booking.com over the last few days. The subject line reads “URGENT | Updated GDT”. It advises that they have now removed their Bidding Restrictions. If you have been left wondering what they are, you’re not alone! So what are these Booking.com Bidding Restrictions and why should you worry about them?

What did the email say?

The image above shows the full wording of the email. The key paragraph is the one below.

1. Remove the Bidding Restrictions from our agreement with you. This means that you are free to bid on Booking.com via online search engines if you wish to, which is in line with the recent EU-ruling on this topic. The removal will apply to all accommodations.

“URGENT | Updated GDT” email by Booking.com dated July 2019 advising removal of Bidding Restrictions

What does it all mean?

Many hosts seem to have been left perplexed by this email. Does it require them to do something? Well, the answer is yes! – that is, if you want to increase your direct bookings! To find out more about what it means exactly, our team at Zeevou contacted Booking.com. While as a channel manager we are one of their Premier Connectivity Partners, it’s not always clear even to us what their changes mean! Unsuprisingly, it was excruciatingly difficult to get any further details from them. What we did manage to ascertain is the fact that while this all started due to EU laws, the change is being rolled our worldwide and will be effective as of today as Booking.com’s policy in any country around the globe.

What’s changing and why?

They were vague on which piece of EU legislation caused the change. We ended up having to call multiple times and talk to various representatives and account managers. Everyone kept giving conflicting information. To conclude, it turned out that there used to be a restriction which meant you were not allowed to bid for Booking.com’s name on paid search results on search engines such as Google. This restriction has now been lifted.

Restrictions on keyword bidding on SEO, SEM and Paid Search have been removed. Each Partner is now free to bid on any search term on online search engines. This includes the freedom to bid on “Booking.com” for its own web marketing advertising. 


In practice, this means that partners can: 
– bid on “Booking.com” or other trade-mark protected words; or
– bid on generic search terms (for example, bid on “hotels in London” on Google).

Follow-up email received from Booking.com after further enquiries

Hence, if you carefully set things up, you now stand a chance to show up higher than Booking.com while using their own name or a generic name as a keyword for your ad. What’s better, according to Google’s guidance, the search result ranking is not all about how much you’re prepared to pay.

The most important thing to remember is that even if your competition bids higher than you, you can still win a higher position — at a lower price — with highly relevant keywords and ads.

https://support.google.com/google-ads/answer/142918?hl=en

And how does this affect me?

So, what’s next? With the changes that Google is introducing to Google Hotel Ads moving over to Google Ads, this is now a space that you should really be giving adequate attention to.

We suggest it’s time to get your marketing skills brushed up, and start bidding on generic search terms as well as considering doing so on Booking.com’s for your area! If you need help in figuring out exactly what to do, take a look at the Boostly Academy – the best way for a hospitality owner to improve their #BookDirect marketing and increase their occupancy levels.

Increasing Occupancy Levels Using Google

Wondering how to increase your occupancy levels using Google?

Increasing your occupancy levels can be given a boost if you learn how to use Google to your advantage. Besides organic SEO, Google can help you increase occupancy levels in other ways. Continue reading below to find out how.


Google My Business Listings are a fantastic tool for driving more business to your SA property. They act as the front window for your business on Google. Aside from the information you put in, they also display reviews and allow guests to book directly from the search engine.

If you haven’t already claimed your Google My Business listing, SEO+ have a great article about how you can do this. Once you’ve done that, these are the steps you can take to optimise it so it works perfectly for your business.

I encourage all of my hospitality clients to do this, as it is a great way to get in front of your ideal guest when they start their “booking process” I have a full podcast series about this.

Make sure information is up to date on Google My Business to help increase your occupancy levels

How to Increase Vacation Rental Occupancy Levels using Google

Fuel Travel mentioned in their blog on the topic that your Google My Business Listing acts like a virtual storefront. This is your opportunity to sell your business to future guests. You therefore have to keep all of your information accurate. If you already have a listing, check from time to time that all of the information on it is accurate. It can be easy to forget any minor changes that might need to be made throughout the process of owning a business. Your Google My Business Listing should be as up to date as the sign outside of your property.

This information should also be enticing. Odd Dog Media highlight the importance of having an engaging business description. It should have all the important information from your business – but have a little fun with it. This is your chance to set the tone for your business. It’s the first thing that many potential guests will see, so let them know exactly what your business is about. Keep your writing appropriate to the kind of guest you want to attract.

Use the booking button

This feature is highlighted by Moz, who suggest this is of utmost importance for hospitality businesses. By including a booking button, guests won’t even need to leave Google to book a stay at your property. With many potential bookers these days seeking to secure their accommodation as quickly as possible, this adds another level of convenience and makes it easier for them to simply book it on the spot.

You will need to make sure you have a scheduling platform that is compatible with Google. They have provided a handy list of these platforms. There’s also a list of platforms they will be working with soon, so if you are already with one of these you can just wait it out a little bit. The Google My Business Listing will draw all of the pricing, dates and room information from these platforms, so make sure that information is also up to date.

Get more reviews on Google

Google My Business Listings Help Increase Occupancy

With Google set to become the largest platform for finding reviews, you should already be encouraging guests to leave them there anyway. It will also help boost your Google My Business Listing and thus help you in increasing your occupancy levels using Google. Drive Traffic suggest that you can include a link to your review page in emails you send to the guests after their stay. It could also be a good idea to include a handy review button on newsletters. This will remind any previous guests that have not already posted reviews.

Reputation Loop also mention Google’s feature where you can respond to guest reviews. This allows you to interact with customers after they have left you a review. If it is a very good review, a simple thank you will go a long way to show customers you care. For negative reviews, pick out any of the issues they have and make it clear that you are working to fix them. This shows future customers that you are invested in their experience. It is also great for remarketing, as guests are more likely to return to businesses they’ve had positive experiences with.

Including great photos helps in increasing occupancy levels using Google

As mentioned by Ice Portal, visuals are probably the most important content you need to consider. These will be the first thing potential guests will notice. Keep the images on your Google My Business Listing up to date and high quality. If your photography skills aren’t the best, bringing a professional in is one of the best investments you can make. You want them to be eye catching, but also to show off how great your property is.

Google have quite precise specifications for images on the platform, and Travel Tripper have a good guide for this. They also emphasise the three main photos your business needs to have – a profile photo, cover photo and logo photo. Your profile photo and cover photo are the most important. Make sure the photo that best shows off your property is the profile photo. Cover photos are great for wider shots where you want to take in a large space, such as a lobby or outdoor area. The logo needs to be square so it fits in perfectly with Google’s platform.

Keep everything consistent to help Google increase your occupancy levels

Increasing Occupancy Levels Using Google

Not only should your information be accurate, but it should be consistent across all the platforms you use. Raj Nijjer highlights the importance of having the information be the same on directories and search engines on Search Engine Watch. This prevents your potential guests from being confused as to what is accurate and boosts your rankings.

Pick A Web state that the most important step to ensure this is to make sure your NAP data matches the data on your website. NAP stands for name, address and phone number. These are three details most important to guests, as well as the information Google algorithms take into account when promoting your Google My Business Listing. Google takes into account all of the information from your business across the web – not just what you enter. Updating everything makes sure this remains correct on your listing. If you run multiple properties under the same business name, make sure your website has addresses and phone numbers for all of them.

It can’t be said enough – this listing is your virtual storefront. You should be performing regular maintenance on your online presence, so make sure to add this to your routine. By keeping the information accurate, reviews positive and images enticing you will start to notice a significant improvement in bookings. This is one of the easiest ways to pull your business away from relying on OTAs.


I hope you have enjoyed this guest blog for Zeevou about ways of increasing your occupancy levels using Google. If you want to come and find out more about Boostly, then head over to boostly.co.uk.

I recommend everyone joins the Hospitality Community Facebook Group. 

To follow my journey, I record daily vlogs on my Instagram account where I show you how you can increase your direct bookings and document how I am taking on the Online Travel Agents on a daily basis. Follow here