Google Updates Travel Search Experience on Mobile
If you are an OTA, you probably hate Google. If you are a metasearch company, you probably hate Google. If you are a hotelier, you probably really hate Google. For the past few years, Google has slowly been chipping away at the travel industry’s profit margins. Once again, Google has rolled out new features that make it easier to book flights and hotels straight from Google Search Pages.
Last week, Google updated and added new features to both its hotel and flight search experience on mobile. For hotels, Google better refined its price filtering and made it easier to find amenity information.
Google has also made shopping for hotel rooms and flights a lot more seamless by adding tabbed navigation to the search experience. Once you’ve selected your flight dates, you can select the ‘Flights’ tab to easily check hotel availability and prices for those chosen dates and location.
Before this update, a user would have to do a separate search for their flight and hotel (which caused redundancies by having to re-enter travel dates and destination information). By reducing the number of interactions a user has with the search engine, Google makes it easier for the user to do all of their trip planning through the search engine (which means they get to make more money because you click on more ads).
You will also notice a newly added ‘Explore’ tab which includes destination information like top sights, suggested itineraries, when to visit, and carousels featuring curated destination-specific travel articles and videos. In the Explore section, you can even find bundled flights and hotels for some destinations.
Additional features launched a few months prior include the ability to track flight and hotel prices. When there is a price increase or decrease for the selected date and location, Google will notify the opted-in user about the change. Google also offers insights and tips that will help searchers looking to book cheaper trips. For example, for a flight, Google will let you know if the current price of a flight is below or above average for the dates you’ve selected.
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As Google continues to evolve their travel search experience and includes more features that were once unique to travel booking sites and OTAs, these companies may experience declines in organic click-through rates on mobile devices and will invest more in Google hotel and flight ads.