Last week (7 March 2019) Google released without fanfare its own hotel metasearch and booking site.
And it's pretty slick.
Here's what you get at that URL after selecting Boston MA as location at top left (only top part of page shown):
Note the More filters link. Clicking that produces this dialog popup:
Here you can apply a filter by star rating (2,3,4,5). But the really cool feature is the Just deals filter. Clicking that and Apply produces this screen (only top part shown):
Notice how good these deals really are for Boston hotels. Clicking on the Hotel Indigo listing produces:
Here's plenty of information about Hotel Indigo:
- Carousel of photos
- Star rating: 3
- Street address: 280 Friend Street 02114
- Phone number: 617-720-5544
- Website link
- Hotel rating from reviews: 3.6 out of 5
- Most popular review snippets: Near public transport, Great service, Great location
- Location review rating: 3.9 out of 5, with descriptive text
- Links to nearby points of interest, with photos and travel times
- Links to 4 Google partners that offer the $129 rate: Booking.com, Expedia, Priceline, Orbitz
And if you click on the Website link you do in fact get taken to the Hotel Indigo website (in a new tab on desktop):
Note the $175.05 price there - significantly higher than the Google Deal price (but maybe for different dates).
Going back to the previous screen and clicking the Book a room button gets this screen:
Here we have:
- Links to 9 Google partner sites where the deal can be booked. These links take the user to the regular Booking.com (etc.) website where the $129 deal can be found.
- Disclosure of full price of $148 including taxes and fees
- At the bottom of the page, links to Google pages where booking can be done directly with Google, with reservation and payment information then passed to Priceline, etc. for customer support.
Here's the page you get after clicking the Priceline link at the bottom of the previous screen:
I mentioned earlier that this new product gives Google an edge over competitors in hotel metasearch and booking. Here's why I believe that:
- Google's product does everything Kayak, Expedia, Booking.com (etc.) do, and more.
- It's integrated with Google Maps and Google Search.
- Competition for Google Ads position drives hoteliers to buy ads in order to be visible at all in search.
- Machine learning backed by billions of data points powers Google's Deals filter and can select the reviews and photos that are most relevant to the user's search.
- As shown above, users can access the hotel website from within Google Hotels after seeing the deal. I believe that feature is unique to the Google product.
- Using Google Maps data, Google provides within hotel search results extensive information on the hotel's location and what's nearby - also believed to be unique.
- Integration of Google Maps with Google My Business gives hoteliers analytics data like clickthroughs, calls, search keywords and requests for directions.
That's an impressive set of advantages. How will Kayak et al respond?
And no, Google isn't compensating me for this review. I just tell it like it is.