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Google’s Next Big Travel Play

Google’s Next Big Travel Play

Google does not hide the fact that the travel industry is one of their key markets. They continually churn out new innovations that improve travel related search and advertising. Google’s action in the sector not only affects their competitor, Bing, it also sets online travel agencies (OTAs) and metasearch companies on alert.

Google Travel and YouTube were both represented at The PhoCusWright Conference last year and their message was clear: video, maps and mobile are the technologies that will shape the future of travel. The promises of a video search driven travel discovery process are still a bit far off, but Google’s recent move to experiment with adding hotel prices to Maps is a big step.

Rob Torres, Managing Director, Travel represented Google at the 2009 PhoCusWright Conference and hinted at Google’s map play.

The new map feature allows you to search for hotels on Google Maps and enter your travel dates. The results show pricing data alongside the local map. This pricing information includes sponsored links. A shopper can click through to reserve a room on the advertiser’s site. If this functionality takes off, it may prove to be another key channel for hotels to watch.


PhoCusWright Connect contributor Robert Cole thinks this is an obvious move for Google. “It seems reasonable to extend hotel search functionality given that Google already includes special features for local search (enter “Italian food 53051” into the Google search bar for mapping of Italian restaurants near Milwaukee), or trip planning (enter “ORD DFW May 3 May 5” into the Google search bar to get date-sensitive deep links to seven online agency or meta-search sites). Did anyone seriously expect Google to pass on this opportunity? Especially since Bing is already providing full date-driven hotel meta-search capability?” Read Robert Cole’s original post.

Learn more about how mobile, alternate distribution systems, social media and myriad new technologies are driving change and creating business value for travel companies. PhoCusWright has isolated 10 key travel innovation and technology trends from the plethora of global initiatives in the past year in Travel Innovation and Technology Trends: 2010 and Beyondpurchase today for US$500.