As you may know, selling your tours and activities using a mix of distribution channels is one of the best ways to expand your reach. From Expedia to Facebook to the hostel down the road, there are plenty of opportunities to land interested travelers. And now, there’s one more prominent place — Reserve with Google.
Right on Google Search and Maps, they can learn more about your experiences, check availability, and complete booking and payment. All while your inventory updates automatically in your dashboard. With fewer steps in the booking process, it’s easier than ever to convert travelers during the search phase.
And since Reserve with Google is relatively new to tours and activities, there’s no better time to get on board. As more Google users start to catch on, they’ll purposely seek out operators with this option on their Google My Business profile. If you’re one of them, you could stand out among your competitors and maybe even rank higher on Google Maps.
So hurry up and make sure you meet the compatibility requirements — such as using Stripe as your primary payment gateway. We’ll be here waiting to walk you through how to set up Reserve with Google in Checkfront:
1. Create a Google My Business account
Reserve with Google is a feature of Google My Business (GMB). Needless to say, you’ll need a Google My Business account to access it. But taking bookings isn’t the only thing you can do with a listing. You can also customize your information, reply to Google reviews and messages, share discounts and blog posts, and view insights about your customers.
And get this, it’s all free — so what’s stopping you from creating a Business Profile?
Before you go ahead and sign up; however, check to see if a GMB listing already exists for your tour and activity business. You can do that by entering the name of your business in Google Search. If a knowledge panel appears next to the search results, click claim this business and follow the steps.
Maybe you’ll get lucky and most of your details, as well as some photos, will already be there. But double-check that everything is accurate. It doesn’t hurt to get into this habit anyway since Google users can suggest edits to your listing at any time.
If your Business Profile doesn’t show up, you’ll have to start from scratch. The quickest way to add your GMB listing is to use Google Maps:
- Open Google Maps on your computer
- Type your address in the search bar
- Select Add your business on the left
- Follow the on-screen instructions
Just make sure to fill in as much information as possible that matches everything on your website — you shouldn’t skip over anything. And most importantly, don’t forget to verify your business. Doing this tells Google that your business is legitimate, which gives only you and designated account members the ability to manage the listing.
Once you create a GMB listing, it’s best to optimize it for better conversion and a higher ranking. So check out these Google My Business tips and tricks to get the most out of this free channel.
2. Activate Reserve with Google
It takes two accounts to access Reserve with Google. That’s right; you’ll need a booking software provider that supports a Reserve with Google integration, too. Luckily, Checkfront recently launched this add-on, and it’s available to all plans. So if you don’t have an account with us yet, you can give it a try for 21 days.
First off, you should build your inventory while keeping the compatibility requirements in mind. That way, you can quickly enable your items without going back or fixing errors. But don’t worry if you already have a long list created — you’ll find out what changes you can make later.
That said, here’s how to set up Reserve with Google in your Checkfront dashboard:
- Go to Manage then Add-ons in the top menu
- Find Reserve with Google under Channel Management, or type it into the search bar
- Hover over the add-on and click on Setup
- Hit Activate on the pop-up
Before you list your inventory on the next page, you must Verify your Google Maps Address. Automatically, this will default to the address in your Checkfront account. But if there’s a slight difference between that and what’s on your GMB listing — like Street and St — Google won’t be able to confirm your location.
To make sure both addresses are identical, all you have to do is:
- Go to Google Maps and enter your business name in the search bar
- On your Business Profile, hover over your address and click Copy address
- Back on the Reserve with Google screen, paste the matching address under Google Maps Address
- Hit Save
Right next to the Google Maps Address, you’ll also see Required Form Fields. When Google users fill out your booking form, Reserve with Google automatically collects their Name, Email, and Phone Number. Although it’s better for conversion to limit required form fields to 3 or less, if you have any that are must-haves, you can add them here.
Just click on Toggle Form Fields and select the ones you want on the booking form. Keep in mind that you don’t have to include something like — How did you hear about us — because you already know the answer is Google.
If a field is missing, it’s likely because you have it set as optional. You can make it required for Reserve with Google by following these steps:
- Go to Manage then Layout, and click on Booking Form at the top of the page
- Find the field you want to mark as required by hitting Edit or select +Add new field at the bottom
- In the pop-up, click on Options and check the Required box next to Customer.
- Hit Update or Save — that’s if you already entered a label for a new field.
- Go back to the Reserve with Google page and click on Toggle Form Fields again. You should see the field there now.
3. Enable compatible items
You’re not out of the woods yet — now it’s time for the real fun to begin. Under Inventory Status, you’ll see all of your items listed. One at a time, you can customize the name and description, preview how it’ll show up on Reserve with Google, and enable the item.
Here’s the thing though; some items will be compatible, and some will not. You can tell by the tabs displayed that Checkfront organizes the items accordingly, so you can get a quick idea of what items you may need to adjust. We’ll get to that shortly.
But first, let’s get your compatible items ready for Reserve with Google:
- Select the Compatible tab and expand the first item on the list by clicking on it
- Toggle Enable item — stay cool, your item won’t sync until you save. This action just allows you to edit the item specifically for Reserve with Google. That means the changes you make here will not override the original item summary.
- Customize the item name and description. The name should be simple, yet clearly, describe the experience. And the description should contain essential details about the activity — like if the meeting place is different than your business address. Don’t forget that Reserve with Google doesn’t accept emojis and non-English words, so avoid using them.
- For better readability, you can add headers, lists, bold, and italics font using valid HTML formatting. You can see the changes you make on the right side under Reserve with Google Item Preview.
- Hit Save when everything’s good to go
Your item will go up on Reserve with Google within 24 hours. Now, you just have to go through the rest of the list.
One thing to note is that it might be a good idea to include relevant keywords on Reserve with Google. We don’t know whether item names and descriptions will be a Google ranking factor, but it’s better to be safe just in case.
For example, let’s say you offer an ATV tour. You could name your item with the primary keyword ATV Adventure, and in the description, use longtail keywords — like best ATV tours, ATV off-road adventure tours, and guided ATV tours. If someone uses these terms on Google Maps, your listing might get pushed to the top because it’s related and easy to book.
Not sure what keywords to use? Type one of your item names into Google Search and look at the related searches at the bottom of the results. Any of those queries can be a keyword, so long as they make sense with what you’re offering.
4. Review incompatible items
The reality is that some of your items might not work for Reserve with Google — at least for now. It’s up to you to decide whether the necessary changes are deal breakers or not. For instance, would it be reasonable to host a ghost walking night tour during the day so that it goes up on Reserve with Google? I’m thinking no.
However, there might be some incompatibilities you can accommodate — such as group pricing, required add-ons, flexible duration, etc. You can see a breakdown of these by clicking on the Incompatible tab and expanding each item the same way as above.
If you think any are okay to adjust, you can edit them under Inventory then Items, using the search bar to find each one quickly.
And that’s it! Your inventory is officially ready for Google Search and Maps. For more information on how to set up Reserve with Google and Checkfront, check out our Reserve with Google Set-Up Guide and frequently asked questions.