Hospitality Tech: What you need to know about Google's Hotel Finder
Google’s mission has always been to continually provide the most relevant information and best match for the user’s search query. In the case of hotels, users want to find the answers to: what hotels are in the area, are there rooms available and what is the price? Google is making the answers to those questions very easy to find and compare, right on the search engine results page (SERP).
Google is uniquely positioned to accumulate the massive amounts of local data required to provide these results and many of the major hotel brands are currently implementing the interface needed to connect their central reservation systems with Google’s back-end. Smaller independent hotels need to push their own global distribution systems (GDS) to start providing their real-time pricing and availability information to compete with the big boys.
So, what’s it mean for you? You’ll reap the benefits as long as you’re able to provide your rates and listings to Google for direct bookings to your hotel website. That means you can avoid the additional fees paid to the online travel agencies (OTA’s) for bookings through them. Google is certainly making it easier for guests to search for hotels and compare rates and accommodations with minimal effort.
How does it Work?
Users can find and compare hotels using Google Search and then filter the results by price, location, ratings or hotel class. They can then view photos, read reviews and find additional details about the hotel accommodations. Finally, they can reserve a room directly from the search results for some participating hotels…and more hotels are joining all the time.
How to do a search on Hotel Finder using Google Maps:
- Start by drawing a line on the map around the general area you’re interested in visiting
- The map shows interesting highlights and popular locations in that area
- Click within the area and you’ll get a listing of hotels
- Review pricing, ratings, accommodations, and availability
- Narrow your search by using filters to limit price points, dates, ratings, etc.
- Select the hotel that best suits your needs and budget
If you store your payment information in Google Wallet, you don’t need to keep entering your information each time you use Google to book a room. Once you’ve booked your room, you’ll receive confirmation directly from the hotel who will handle all customer service questions after the booking is complete.
Is this the Future of Travel Booking?
As this new Google program picks up steam, it could become the central hub for travel as users enjoy the convenience of booking directly from the search results instead of visiting multiple hotel sites or using an aggregator like Kayak or Hotels.com. The big winners are large hotel brands and independents who can provide the real-time pricing and availability data.
Google continues to make strides in improving the user experience, offering the tools and features travelers want. As it adds more data and reviews, Google’s Hotel Finder could be a huge source of direct online bookings. Google has plans to make their Hotel Finder more prominent on the results page, placing listings “above” the organic rankings…. So even if you’re hotel is ranking number one, you may find your listing below the hotel finder results. And if you don’t currently offer rates and availability, it may be hard to compete with those that do. As Google makes it mark on yet another search niche, you need only add Google Flights to have a full-service travel planner.
Hotel Finder is fully-functional on your mobile device as well, where you can book your hotel directly from your smart phone by simply going to www.google.com/hotels. Read more about how hospitality has gone mobile in this article from Hcareers.