As a result of the digitization, the tourism and hotel industry is changing a lot. Hotel booking portals are trying to expand their market share and to assert themselves against their competitors with new ideas, whereas hotels want to strengthen their own direct booking channel. The search engine operator Google has also recently put more effort into the development of its travel tools in order to be able to participate more intensively in the travel market.
Within the last few years, not only the processes in the hotel itself have changed but also along the entire customer journey digitization has a relevant impact on our travel behavior. Inspiration, search, booking, review - except for the stay itself, most of the travel experience now takes place online.
If the customer does not book his holidays through a travel agency, it is necessary to search and book the various components for the holiday on his own. The search for the right flight, the optimal hotel, and the most important sights is often very time-consuming. Some crucial factors to make a booking are usually the target group-specific positioning of the hotel, the price and the ratings from other travelers.
Google now wants to offer the users an all-in-one interface in which the complete search and comparison process, as well as the administration of the individual travel elements, can be managed. This intention led to the launch of the new feature “Google Travel” in mid-May 2019 with a completely new design. In addition to the organic search, Google Travel now also features an integration to Google Maps and currently includes the following components in Europe:
At the beginning of August, the app Google Trips, with which the complete travel planning could be carried out, was stopped. The functionalities of the app were not removed, but transferred to Google Search and Google Maps. Google collects a huge amount of data, which is now also used in the Google Travel Tool "Explore". Search queries, future or historical hotel bookings or the upcoming flight are stored in the Google account and clearly displayed in Google Maps or the Google Travel page. You can also collect and add further day trips, restaurants or events to your already booked holiday, for example.
Imagine you spend 48 hours in Vienna. What is there to see? No problem, Google has ready-to-use routes and sights for you.
With Google Flights, the famous search engine offers the possibility to search for flights on Google as well. The most attractive prices of the different airlines are compared and clearly displayed to the user. With the intention to make a booking, the user will usually be forwarded directly to the airline, where the transaction can be made, without additional commission. In addition to numerous filter possibilities and a price monitoring option, Google Flights can definitely become a serious competitor for established flight search engines on the market.
The solution Google Hotels is mostly based on the Google My Business entry and the location on Google Maps. In the organic Google search, a list of four hotels including a map entry appears, depending on the search behavior of the user. A further click on the Google map takes the user to the Google Travel interface, where he is shown a detailed overview of the currently available hotels. As in every known hotel search engine, location, date, number of persons and other filters can be entered for the hotel search. When it comes to offers, Google acts as a so-called meta-search engine and checks all available prices on the market to list them in line with the booking channel. If desired, the guest is forwarded either to the respective online booking portal or the hotel's own website.
With the feature "Book on Google", the hotelier now has the option of connecting his Web Booking Engine directly with the search engine and thus allowing bookings to be processed directly on the Google user interface. The prerequisite for using this booking option is participation in the well-known Google Hotel Ads Program. By using Google Hotel Ads, not only the OTAs but also the hotel's own website is listed in the metasearch results and the guest is forwarded to the corresponding booking page of the hotel. This redirection is to be omitted now by Book on Google and the customer receives, therefore, an even better user experience. Google does not charge any commission for hotel bookings via Book on Google, but the usual costs are incurred for the hotel ads, depending on the billing model. In order to create a Google Hotel Ads listing, it is necessary to work together with an authorized Google integration partner. This partner also gives advice, supports and activates the Book on Google service on request. How far Book on Google will establish itself in the DACH area cannot be said exactly yet. The fact is that Google is definitely a serious player in the market for metasearch engines and OTAs.
Even packages - the combination of flight and hotel, can now be searched and compared on Google Travel. With the booking, Google again acts as a metasearch engine and forwards the user to the available travel providers. In addition, Google also shows the comparison price between package booking or the separate booking of hotel and flight.
We are looking forward to seeing how the well-known search engine in the travel industry will develop further.
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