Performance Max For Travel: The New Google Ads Campaign Type for Hotels 


What is a Performance Max Campaign?

Google Performance Max is a campaign type in Google Ads that allows advertisers to display their ads across multiple ad formats and networks. It uses machine learning to automatically optimise for the best performance.

Performance Max Campaigns were originally rolled out by Google in early 2022 (or late 2021, depending on your region), and showed a way for Google PPC teams to complement their existing campaign structure with a new type of campaign that covered Search, Display, Video, Gmail and Discovery channels in one go.

It was a major move towards more automated campaigns from Google, intended to free up time for marketing teams as well as hand over much campaign control to Google’s machine learning.

Although performance insights for these campaigns are not currently offered at the same level, they are for other campaign types (for example, you cannot currently view a complete historical search terms report or see exactly which websites ads have shown on) overall results have been strong, and we have incorporated Performance Max into many of our accounts’ campaign structures.

So, when Google announced the brand new Performance Max for Travel recently, the team at Sprint Digital were excited learn more about the new campaign offering. As an agency who works extensively with hotels and other travel properties, Performance Max for Travel is highly relevant to many of our clients.

Here are some insights into what we can expect:

What is Performance Max for Travel?

Travel is growing again, with Google searches for ‘book a flight’ up 70% in 2022, and travellers are spending more time online researching that travel than ever before. 40% of leisure travellers say they invest more time and effort planning than they did before the pandemic. Google cites these statistics in their official release and offers Performance Max for Travel as a direct response to help hoteliers connect to their guests and drive direct bookings.

Like traditional Performance Max campaigns, Performance Max for Travel ads appear across Search, Display, Video, Gmail and Discovery campaigns – and they also serve ads when people search for a property on, which includes Maps. This means they will cover some of the territory your brand-focused campaigns may currently cover.

We’re always in favour of driving direct bookings through a hotel’s own website, as opposed to letting a third party with high commission fees pick up the business, so we’re excited to use these new campaigns for our clients.

Google is touting a few benefits for this new campaign type, including:

  • Drive more conversions through Google’s AI: Google claim an average increase of 18% in incremental conversions, which right now comes from a small pool of beta testers. We’re looking forward to seeing if these results are broadly reflected as more advertisers start running these campaigns.
  • Simplified campaign setup and reporting: Performance Max campaigns are easy to set up, with major benefits including suggested assets and messaging pulled directly from your existing ads and website.There is also the option to a) create property lists directly in Google ads or b) link to a Hotel Center account. One difficulty currently of running Hotel Ads campaigns is the need to work with an existing Hotel Center partner, so a move to self-serve property lists is welcome. As a data-focused team, however, simplified reporting isn’t what we’re looking for, so we hope for more sophisticated reporting to come in time for these campaigns.
  • Improved operational efficiency: Without the need to research keywords or tailor bids, Google offers this campaign type as a way to free up marketing time and resources for more strategic initiatives.

Are Hotel Ads Still Relevant?

Currently, while Performance Max for Travel can pull from Hotel Center in the same way Google Hotel Ads do, they don’t pull pricing or availability. This means they won’t be able to show in place of Hotel Ads currently, so Hotel Ads are still relevant!

However, Google has said that this capability is coming later in 2023, so watch this space. If they do serve across Hotel Ads inventory and perform well, they could potentially replace this campaign type completely eventually, as the original Performance Max was intended to replace Local Search. If Performance Max for Travel gets into the metasearch space in this way, it will be very interesting to see what results this brings.

Getting Started with Performance Max for Travel

Ok, you’ve weighed up the benefits and decided to test out Performance Max for Travel for your property. How do you get started?

If you’re comfortable with the Google Ads platform and ready to get started, Google has supplied set-by-step instructions here. You’ll start by either connecting to Hotel Center or creating a property feed, and work through the setup from there.

If you’re looking to find a team to help, Sprint Digital are experts in all things Google, and we can help you in getting started with this new campaign type to complement your existing strategy.

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