Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 26 August 2019

Google introduces a new hotel booking tool

Google Hotels introduces functions for users looking to book hotel stays and holiday rentals

Google has quietly launched hotel booking site Google Hotels. Pixabay
Google has quietly launched hotel booking site Google Hotels. Pixabay

Google is continuing to make its mark on the online travel booking process with the launch of Google Hotels, a hotel booking tool that includes listings from around the world.

The feature has been added to the company’s flight finder page, a service that is a core part of the online airfare search experience. With the addition of an upgraded hotel booking section, the search giant is fast becoming a one-stop solution for trip planning.

The news was quietly unveiled in a Google blog post on the same day that Airbnb announced it was acquiring last-minute hotel room booking app HotelTonight. Google Hotels also allows users to find last-minute accommodation deals.

A limited version of Google Hotels was launched last year but the new update uses machine learning to offer better filtering options and allows users to book some properties directly. It is also an ad-free platform. Travellers can use the service to search hotels by amenities, pet-friendly properties or free WiFi availability and users can also browse photographs from the hotels, or from fellow travellers.

There is an additional option to search for and book holiday rentals, a function that could compete with popular short-term rental platform Airbnb.

On top of all that, Google Hotels offers a new ‘Deals’ filter option. This allows people to view only properties that are offering promotional rates on the dates users want to travel.

For anyone with a particular landmark in mind, the search engine can also locate properties near specific places. Trip-planners just need to search for 'Hotels near Eiffel Tower,' or 'Accommodation near Disneyland' to see property options, rates and walking distance from the specified place of interest.

According to travel knowledge website Skift, Google's hotel booking site has the power to disrupt the online accommodation industry in a similar manner to how Google Flights disrupted the online airfare booking process.

Mixed results

A search for a stay at Shangri-La Hotel, At the Shard, London on Google Hotels produced ambiguous results. Courtesy Shangri-La Hotels
A search for a stay at Shangri-La Hotel, At the Shard, London on Google Hotels produced ambiguous results. Courtesy Shangri-La Hotels

In a search for a stay for two adults over three nights in central London from July 3 – peak tourist season for the UK capital – Google Hotels reveals 155 five-star hotels, all plotted on a familiar Google Maps image. Selecting the 'Deals' filter curates this list to just three properties, with savings ranging from 19 per cent to 52 per cent when compared to what Google refers to as standard rates.

Noticeably in our search, the popular Shangri-La Hotel at The Shard London is not listed in 'Deals' but is listed at Dh2,558 for the stay, compared to Dh7,897 on booking.com and Dh7,877 on hotels.com. However, the next step in the booking process checks availability before confirming the final rate, which actually turned out to be Dh6,518 (via third-party site Otel).

While that is Dh1,000 less than two of the booking platform’s accommodation rivals, it’s also more than double the original price displayed. Some hotels and travel agencies, however, allow users to book directly with Google, eliminating this secondary step and making for a more seamless process. The search giant is expected to further expand this feature.

Updated: March 19, 2019 01:42 PM

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