Google builds out hotel and flight price-tracking features
- Google has introduced new cost-savings tools on Google Flights as well as hotel searches on its main platform, as outlined in a company blog post. Google Flights has added a "Dates" tab users can tap to see a calendar view of date combinations when booking flights, with the cheapest options highlighted in green and the most expensive in red. The new feature is already available in the mobile version of Flights and will roll out to the desktop version later this year, per the blog post.
- Other offerings include finding the cheapest dates to reserve a hotel via a nightly rate in the calendar view, as well as price trends for a hotel to track how rates change over time and the ability to compare final destination and airport options to find the best price. Google pointed out that more than 25% of flight searches could end up with a better price if the user chose an alternate airport.
- These price-conscious and user-friendly tools being built into Google's travel products put the comapny in more direct competition with travel and booking services such as Expedia, Kayak and TripAdvisor, as CNET noted.
Google's new features could put pressure on the business model of established travel services if consumers feel they can conduct all of their planning and purchasing easily in one place. Google didn't explicitly mention any sort of booking or reservation options and only covered allowing users to find the cheapest dates, so there still might be an advertising opportunity for brands and apps.
But the tools do highlight how Google can upturn a business model simply by taking the massive amount of data it's already accruing and serving up via its search product and leveraging that for its own gain. The company also last year rolled out Google Trips, a travel-planning app that it described as a "personalized tour guide in your pocket."
That, combined with the latest bit of news, likely make more veteran players like Expedia and TripAdvisor, which rely a good deal on search advertising done through platforms like Google, a bit nervous. There's also no shortage of disruption coming from other, newer companies: Airbnb, for example, is gearing up to stake out a larger piece of the flight-booking business, as well as offering more comprehensive travel-planning features that extend beyond home-sharing.