Google is continuing to make inroads into travel and hospitality. This year, for the first time, Google was the most popular review site by volume, and introduced a metasearch and booking tool, giving OTAs a run for their money. Now, the company wants to put every aspect of your next trip in one place.
Have you ever opened up your Google calendar and seen a meeting, flight or dinner reservation magically appear without you having to create the event? That’s the power and delight of omniscient Google and now that power is being used to bring together all your trip data, including research, flights, and hotels, plus weather and other handy information on your desktop computer, in addition to the app, Google Trips.
Google has identified a real pain in consumer travel; Trip planning usually involves many different searches and transactions, across multiple devices. It can take days or weeks to plan a trip and without careful attention or note-taking, it’s easy to forget things you learned during the research process and even easier to lose track of booking confirmations and details.
Trips is the single place where all your trip-planning data will come together. But like all good things, you have to give a little to get a lot. For Trips to work, you have to be OK giving up a bit of privacy. When you visit google.com/travel and scroll down to Trips, you will see that you need to give Google permission to pull in your data. Google explains, “Private results allow results that may be relevant to you to be displayed for you on Google when you’re signed in. Web & app activity allows your searches and website visits on signed-in devices to be saved for more customized experiences across Google.”
Once you have enabled permissions, Google will snuff out confirmations and create a trip timeline for you. You can now edit your trips timeline, and in a few weeks you’ll be able to manually add new reservations as well. Google adds weather to the timeline, making it easier to pack for your trip and know when you should bring the umbrella.
And, since trips are about discovery, Google continues to surface helpful information while you’re traveling, highlighting things to do, restaurants to visit, and more with Google Maps. Google says, “Now, we’ll also help you get the lay of the land when you’re traveling by pointing out popular neighborhoods nearby and what they’re known for.”
I think many travelers are going to be very excited to take Google Trips for a spin. While there are people that like to just get out and explore, others like to have information at their fingertips and know where to go, when its open and how to get there. For these people, Google Trips will likely become an important travel tool. As Google continues to build it out, we expect it will become a 1-stop shop for travel information… and pehaps booking down the line. (Today, booking continues to happen through travel partners.)
What does this mean for hoteliers?
As Google begins to play a larger role in trip planning and travel, beyond just the hotel, there’s a lot that hotels should do to ensure that they can play a role in the traveler’s trip. Hotels should pay close attention to reviews and guest ratings and respond professionally to ensure that readers know they are looking to improve.
In addition, as Google, in addition to sites like TripAdvisor and Airbnb, begin to focus on travel experiences, hotels should ensure that profiles for all outlets, not just the hotel, are up to date, ooze warmth and feature great reviews. As Google surfaces relevant suggestions based on filters, make sure that your information is as complete and accurate as possible.
Google Trip features things to do, day plans and food and drink in each trip. Ideally, guests will book with you but even if they decide to stay elsewhere, if Google knows about your award-winning rooftop bar, great cafe or inexpensive hair salon, you might have a second shot for prospects to explore your hotel as they explore the neighborhood around you.