Get your business onto Google Maps
You can add your hotel to Google Maps as a Business so that it shows up if people are searching for hotels, notes Des O'Mahony.
People are increasingly using Google Maps to find local information, first locating the area of interest and then using Google Map "Find businesses" option as shown here.
It is vital that you get your business listed, and it's very simple. It all happens in Google's Local Business Centre.
If you don't have a Google account, do this:
* First, go to Google Maps on maps.google.com
* Either move the map to your hotel's location or use the search to type in your street address and it should locate you properly.
* In the search results column on the left you will see a link that says "Put your business on Google Maps", click on that
* If you have a Google account, log in. If not, take a few minutes to create one.
If you do have a Google account, log in, go to "My Account" in the menu bar and choose "Local Business Centre".
Once in Local Business Centre, choose to set up a new business:
* You will be asked to specify your business's details and contact phone number - this will be used to verify your entry so make sure you are near that phone to complete the process
* Choose your category as "hotel" or other as appropriate - you can add more categories if you cater for other services such as conference, wedding etc
* You should consider uploading high quality photographs to give users a feel for your product, up to 10 are allowed
* Once you have gone through the addition of all information, you will have the option of having the information verified by phone, by SMS or by postal verification - if you choose phone, the system will display a PIN number on screen and will phone the main business number that you gave immediately, asking you to enter that PIN. (You must be able to take that automated call directly as it will not be switchable through a switchboard. But you can give a direct line as your main business number and, once the call verifies you, you can then edit your business profile to switch the main business number to something else.)
* Once verified, you will be quickly live, usually immediately. To check, go back to maps.google.com and use the "Find businesses" option to search for your category in your area, eg "hotel" and you should appear.
* You can edit your listing at any time by logging in and going to the Local Business Centre
Note that if you have a series of offices or hotels, you can set up multiple locations.
Also, in the Local Business Centre you can track access to your listings and see if it is popular. To make maximum use of this, you should ensure you have online reservations as an additional attribute. You will more than likely also see your business listed by other vendors - it is up to you whether you want that to continue or not.
The screenshot above right shows Bookassist being found "locally" in the marketing category.
Dr Des O'Mahony is co-founder and Managing Director of Bookassist