Google’s New Trip Planning Feature and Its Impact on SEO

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Melody Ciria
Melody Ciria
January 29, 2016
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Google continues to come up with latest and innovative features to improve the user experience for travelers. Their latest launch is Trip Planning Search Display. This feature allows users to plan a trip in a step-by-step sequence from flight, hotel lodging, and destinations. This feature is accessible on mobile and tablet. Within just a few clicks after doing a search on Google like “Where to go in San Diego” or “San Diego attractions” users will get details about flight options, hotel lodging, points of interest, weather, restaurant, and history. A plethora of information is now readily available to you after doing just one search. You will notice the change as soon as you do a specific search on a location. This newest feature reaffirms Google’s commitment to improve the research and planning phase for travelers and provide a better user experience along the booking funnel. This display is still in beta on desktops which is why you may notice that some specific search queries will not prompt this display. As Google continues to listen to what users want out of their search experience, this Trip Planning feature will also evolve; possibly providing a more personalized experience for the user.

Now that you got a brief introduction of what Trip Planning is all about, we can now dig in and get details of what kind of information is provided from doing a search. When you search on mobile or tablet under the keyword “where to go in San Diego” you will see quick details about the points of interests or popular destinations in San Diego and the average price for the hotels nearby and the flights to that particular destination. Trip Planning also allows users to narrow down their search within the same query without having to do another search. This is done by filtering by date, price and/or interest. Click on the down arrow for More Destinations and you will notice thumbnails listing cities and destinations near San Diego along with the average nightly rate at a hotel. When you click on one of the destinations, you will be led to the Trip Planning display showing a brief description from Wikipedia of the location along with top sights within that city. When you click on the specific sight you will then be led to the Google + page for that location. Below the carousel of the Top Sights, you will notice a ‘Plan a trip on Google’ option which displays the suggested dates to travel to that city if you want to get a good value. Under this category, you will get information on how long the drive is from your current location, average nightly rates for hotels nearby and restaurants around the area. Other helpful information provided by Trip Planning is the weather forecast for the next 3 months and the % chance of precipitation as well as the tourism popularity index. At the bottom, is a list of more places to explore.

The abundance of information Google provides through Trip Planning can be very valuable to the travel consumer as they are planning for a trip. Google curates a collection of destinations you may want to visit from the city you were searching for, which is helpful when coming up with an itinerary for your trip. There’s no question that Trip Planning is a beneficial feature for users but what does it mean for hoteliers? Tripping Planning is great news for hoteliers as it provides more exposure for their hotel to potential guests. To take advantage of this extra visibility, hoteliers need to up their SEO efforts to ensure their vanity site maintains organic search visibility. A few ways to do this is by continuing to create quality content regularly by blogging, optimizing your local listings, staying active on Google + and ensuring you follow SEO best practices that aligns with Google’s many algorithm changes. Be sure to write for the potential guest and not merely for search engines. Establish value through your hotel’s story by not only talking about what amenities and specials your hotel offers but also attract potential guests with insightful local information about the area. Position your hotel as an expert in the area and be sure to include relevant keywords in your copy that will help get your hotel to rank on the Trip Planning display search. With this recent rollout, hoteliers need to become familiar with Trip Planning before coming up with an effective strategy.

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