Google continues to expand its presence in the hotel search market with Google Hotel Finder, Flight Search, Maps, Tour Finder, and Hotel Price Ads. Google has recently announced that they will play a more prominent role in hotel listings and booking hotel rooms. This latest announcement is aimed to encourage online visitors to use Google throughout the entire purchasing funnel from booking a flight to booking a hotel room. The new enhancements to Google will provide similar information that online travel agencies are already offering like rate comparisons, reviews, photos, amenities and etc. So what will this mean for OTAs who rely on Google’s advertising platform and leads? OTAs like Expedia and Priceline represent a large portion of Google’s advertising revenue, which means if Google becomes the new king in hotel search, advertisements on Google Hotel Finder will have more visibility and prominence over OTAs. Furthermore, OTAs will have to pay premium advertising costs for even better positioning on Google and may even have to pay more for clicks on Google. In an effort to be the new king in hotel search, Google has added more features and real estate into the search experience.
Google Hotels will be heavily focused on engaging users through a better mobile experience. One way to provide this kind of experience is by working with the widely used mobile hotel booking app known as Hotel Tonight. By integrating Hotel Tonight in Google’s own Hotel platform, users will appreciate the convenience and time-saving ability of booking a last minute room. Google continues to add more photos and reviews to its hotel listings in order to look more like a travel search site. Also, with hotel price ads, users are able to compare room rates directly on Google without having to navigate to an OTA. Google aims to provide an all encompassing user experience by incorporating all the features that a travel search site should be offering to its visitors. Google map and the knowledge carousel enable users to view reviews from Google + and Zagat scores which helps during the travel research phase. In search results on Google maps, users are also provided with a virtual walk-through tour of a few hotels.
The hotel booking software, Room 77 has scored a licensing deal with Google. This partnership will provide Google with another big advantage in the hotel travelsphere. Google will use Room’s 77 robust hotel database in order to give users what they want to see including room size, layout, and amenities offered. When it comes to hotel search, Google is always finding new ways to give users what they need by providing more information on their own platform rather than just links to other relevant sites. As Google continues to step up its efforts around hotel and travel search, online travel agencies should be prepared for the shift in traffic, visibility, and advertising costs. Nonetheless, users will be getting an optimal search experience for planning their trip.