Last Updated [August 3 2021]: Reserve with Google has been shut down as of August 1st 2021. For operators interested in participating in Google’s Things to Do Pilot Program – submit this form to indicate your interest, and a member of our team will notify you on your eligibility and next steps. Please note that at this time, the pilot program is only available for operators selling tickets and attractions. The pilot program will open to tours and activities at a later date, pending updates from Google.
The summer is heating up, and a few big shake-ups in the world of travel.🌪️
A few months ago, you may have heard some industry chatter around Google’s decision to phase out Reserve with Google offering for tour bookings to further streamline and drive consistency across its travel products.
As a quick recap, Reserve with Google first arrived on the scene in 2017, allowing users to book an appointment or reservation with nearby service providers directly from the search engine.
Taking into account its popularity, Google broadened its scope to include tours and activities and focused on having partners optimize their Google My Business listing, so potential travellers can simply click a button to book a tour, all from one view.
You may also recall that back in Summer 2020, we had proudly announced a strategic partnership with Google. The launch of the Zaui-Reserve with Google integration provided tour suppliers with a free channel to get discovered and sell more tours through Google’s Search, Maps and Assistant.
Since then, Reserve with Google has played a big part in providing Zaui’s tour and activity operators a free channel to capture additional direct bookings.
The process also streamlined the booking path for travellers and eliminated the number of clicks and drop-offs. From the guest’s perspective, it’s convenient for in-destination bookings, especially when browsing and booking from mobile.
But with the recent developments, Google has made it clear of its commitment to offer tour and activity operators a more streamlined experience and simpler partner integration.
Phasing out Reserve with Google: What this means for our Zaui Community?
Google has recently announced its decision to phase out Reserve with Google for tours, activities and attractions by August 1st, 2021.
For our Reserve with Google users, this means the “Buy Tickets” button will be removed from your business listing after July 31st.
Reserve with Google channel will also be removed from the Zaui system by the end of this month. Zaui users will not be able to see this as a channel option but will have access to the company profile to run proper sales reporting and attribution.
⚠️ As Reserve with Google for tours and activities is being sunsetted, please note any support related to Reserve with Google will not be provided after July 31st.
What’s Next? The Future of Tours and Activities in Google
When one door closes, another opens. Google has already looked towards its next chapter and has been piloting Things to Do first to operators providing ticketed attractions. Google aims to broaden the scope to include tours and activities later this year.
For the uninitiated, Google’s Things To Do is positioned as the successor to Reserve with Google. Things To Do is a feature that allows users to find and plan tours and activities available nearby and book instantly from the Search experience.
It’s an approach similar to how it has handled Google’s Hotel Listing format, where hotels pull up within Google’s metasearch and also feature advertisements in the form of sponsored listings. While advertising isn’t a focus at this time, we anticipate promoted listings and ad offerings to be layered on as the feature develops and additional technical specifications come into play.
Things to Do: Getting in on the Ground Floor
In this pilot, Things to Do for tours and activities allows for the availability of products to be updated and booked in real-time via a data-feed integration by guests who find your business through Google, and land directly on your site’s booking engine and portal (powered by Zaui’s OBE). Guests will have a first-hand experience with your brand, site and portal by directly checking out with you. For program participants, it’ll be completely free to use with no commission costs.
Those who’ve had Reserve with Google enabled will find the process similar; but, instead of a “Buy Tickets” button, the Things To Do will display referral links to make it easy for users to compare purchase options between the supplier link and OTAs. If they choose, they’re able to click through and book direct.
Since bookings are made directly at the participant’s booking portal, there is no additional payment partner infrastructure (Stripe) required!
For the Zaui user community who’d wish to participate in the pilot program, our team will be reaching out to the community running ticketed attractions, followed by our tour and activity operators meeting Google’s eligibility criteria and supported activity types. More details on participation in the pilot program to come. Stay tuned!
For those who are new to Zaui, set up a conversation with one of our Zaui experts to discuss the various sales and distribution channels within Zaui and your eligibility to take part in this exciting, new initiative.