The Ultimate Guide to Google Things to do

Since Magpie became a connectivity partner of Google for the Things to do program and started onboarding operators it is clear that the vast majority still don’t fully understand what it is and how it works. We have put together what we think is the most comprehensive guide on the subject. This article will be updated with new information as it becomes available.

What exactly is Google Things to do?

The program is based around Points of Interest or POIs as I’ll refer to them from now on. These POIs can consist of paid attractions such as Museums, Zoos and Theme Parks as well as free attractions such as major parks, town squares and other local landmarks. When you submit your products to Google Things to do, your experiences can be featured when people search on Google surfaces like Search and Maps for the POIs. As an example, a walking tour of New York City that visits Times Square and Central Park can be featured when someone searches for these places in Google.

Google Things to do Surfaces

Below we will go over the different surfaces you will see your Things to do listings displayed. These surfaces are Google Search, Google Maps and Google Travel and Google Business Profile. With each description you will see an animation of how the listings are displayed.

Google Search

POI Search – Admissions

The Admissions section on Google Things to do is where you can be featured if you are an attraction operator or if you sell tickets to an attraction. To find it, a user searches for the POI they want to visit and if available, clicks on the Tickets button (high intent click) on the Google place result. If you are the owner of the attraction you can be listed with the Official Site tag which will generate more clicks.

POI Search – Experiences

The Experiences section can be found below the Admissions section and is where you will find products that visit that POI as part of the overall experience but are not simply an entrance ticket to the POI. Users can click on an experience that interests them to read some information including the description, highlights, what’s included etc. then click through to the supplier website to book. You will see a few filters including pricing and there are around 20 different experiences displayed from different suppliers under each filter. The more complete the information you provide, the better your ranking should be.

“Things to do” search term

In this example we have someone using the popular search term “Things to do in Seattle”, again this should work when searching “Things to do in your city”.  You will see there is a “Top Sights in” section which works the same way as the City Search surface above. The user can scroll and swipe through the different POIs and see companies who offer experiences that include those POIs. The user can click on the company and be taken directly to the operator website for more information and hopefully to make a booking.

Google Maps

Google has recently started including Things to do ticket listings to paid attractions on Google Maps. The user searches for the POI they want visit or for POIs in the area, there is a Tickets button displayed which if the user clicks on will show them a list of suppliers who offer tickets to that POI. So far this has been very successful and in some cases more than doubled the number of clicks they were receiving from the search engine Things to do results. Experiences will be added to Google Maps in the near future and the format will look similar to how they are displayed on the Google Travel results below.

Google Travel

In this example we start in Google Travel (google.com/travel) and search Athens but it works the same way for any city. The results display a grid of popular POIs in Athens. When the user clicks on a POI they are interested in, they will see a Tickets options which will then display the Admissions and Experiences sections for that POI.

Operator Booking Module

Google will soon launch Things to do ticket listings on the Google Business Profile of tour operators just like they currently do with Attractions. Although not currently live, we did get a sneak peek of how it would look. You can see from the image it is similar to the Admissions Section you see on Attractions but what you don’t see are OTA listings…yet. There will be limited functionality available in your own Google Business Profile in the future but it will not allow you to add Points of interest which will limit your exposure and it will not let you participate in Things to do Ads, you would need to work with a connectivity partner like Magpie for that. We have already built to this new spec and our customers will be live as soon as Google launches it.

Google Things to do display types

From the descriptions and videos above you will have see there are a few different ways listings are displayed. You have the Admissions section, Experiences section and Google Ads. Below we will break down each of the different types and what information Google displays on them.

Admissions

This list is mostly made up of products which are direct entry tickets to the point of interest.

See numbered list below image.

1. A Tickets button on the POI search result indicates it is possible to display your Google Things to do listings on it. If you are an attraction and there is no Tickets button displayed on your Google Place result, a connectivity partner like Magpie can help you get it activated.

2. The Official Site tag is available only for the official owner/operator of attractions.

3. Price displayed should be the full Adult price. It should be accurate and be the final checkout price including all taxes and fees. Clicking on the price will link to the landing page you have submitted and can include tracking links.

4. Company name and branding will be displayed if your links are set up directly to your website. Some reservation technology companies link directly to their booking widget which means their branding may display instead of yours.

5. If you have multiple options or multiple products which include the POI they will be grouped together in a dropdown list.

6. Tickets can have up to 2 attributes or callouts listed. These include Free cancellation, Mobile ticket, Instant confirmation and Multi-attraction Pass. You don’t have control over which ones display.

Experiences

This section is where you will find experiences that are related to the point of interest but are not only an entry ticket. You will mostly see tours listed here.

See numbered list below image.

1. This is your feature image for that experience. It should be relevant to the experience and stand out among the other experiences surrounding it. You cannot use images which have any text or graphic overlays including logos.

2. This is your written content including Name, Description, Highlights, Inclusions, Exclusions and Must Know items. It is important to be as descriptive as possible here and show the user what they can expect from the experience. The content here will also affect your position so make sure you mention the POIs you have listed on the experience in the description and highlights.

3. This is the review score that you submit with the product, it can be the score from your website, your Google review score, Tripadvisor rating or another legitimate source.

4. Company name and branding will be displayed if your links are set up directly to your website. Some reservation technology companies link directly to their booking widget which means their branding may display instead of yours.

5. Price displayed should be the full Adult price. It should be accurate and be the final checkout price including all taxes and fees.

6. The visit site button links directly to the landing page you set. It should be the product landing page (not your website homepage) and you can add trackable links so you can follow its traffic in your Google Analytics.

Things to do Ads

The Things to do Ads carousel and other Ad types display when a user searches for a POI or uses a common travel related search term like “Things to do in (location)” or “(location) tours”. Currently the carousel is dominated by OTAs because they jumped on it quick but it is available to all operators. There is evidence to suggest that where this carousel appears, 30% of traffic is lost from down the page and with the Ads displayed below the carousel, the traffic to organic listings is reduced yet again.

See numbered list below image.

1. This is your feature image for that experience. It should be relevant to the experience and stand out among the other experiences surrounding it. You cannot use images which have any text or graphic overlays including logos.

2. The name is displayed with a limited number of characters in view so it is important to get the experience portrayed with the characters in view.

3. Price displayed should be the full Adult price. It should be accurate and be the final checkout price including all taxes and fees.

4. Your Company name will be displayed up to 15 characters followed by …

5. This is the review score that you submit with the product, it can be the score from your website, your Google review score, Tripadvisor rating or another legitimate source.

Is it worth it?

In a word, Yes!…In more words, we think Google Things to do is a great program to drive direct traffic to your website. It works better for some experience operators than others, depending on experience type and location but the majority of operators should see an increase in direct traffic. The OTA’s also think it’s great and you will see them all over the listings and paid ads so if you don’t want all of your sales from Things to do search results to come with 20-30% OTA commission we recommend you get your own direct listings on there too.

How do I get started?

Well luckily you are in the right place. Sign up with Magpie today and get your products listed on Google Things to do. Magpie are experts in making sure your products meet Googles requirements as well as helping you optimize for better performance. Not all connectivity partners provide the same level of service, Google Things to do is not a feature you just turn on or off like many res-techs and channel managers tell people, it requires some attention to detail to get the best out of it.

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