Google recently announced their newest experiment available to US hotels –Google Hotel Finder. This hotel search tool helps users find hotels, prices and locations more easily. As Google wants to establish itself as a leader in the travel and hospitality industry, its Hotel Finder tool allows them to take a step in that direction. The Google Hotel Finder layout is very similar to a travel booking website with several distinct differences, and from the user’s perspective, the new search tool has a few innovative features which they may find to be useful.
Hotel Finder accentuates popular areas using a Google Map overlay. The main innovation of this tool is the ability for the users to edit and draw outlines over cities to define the framework of their search. A user can search from the list view and can sort their results by dates, price, hotel class and user rating, as well as edit the search shape on the tool’s to demarcate the areas of their search.
Some key features of the tool are:
- The prices shown in Google Hotel Finder are the prices defined in the hotel price ads introduced in Google Local earlier in the year;
- There is a direct link from Google Hotel Finder SERP to the hotel website;
- The hotel’s info is pulled from their Google Local account;
- Google Hotel Finder is able to do historic rates comparison to show whether the current rates are a discount or not – very similar to Bing’s Rate Indicator;
- Users are able to zoom in on the mini map to isolate exactly the part of the city they want to stay in.
The Google Hotel Finder tool has some great features:
- Speed of navigation;
- Hotel information and hotel rates display;
- Map-based search allowing users to edit shapes to define areas of interest.;
- Provides booking links to online travel agencies and hotel websites;
- “Short list” feature allowing users to save hotel information;
- Filters to search via rate, star rating and user rating.
However, the tool also has a few shortcomings:
- Cannot search by hotel name;
- All hotels are not displayed in search results;
- Rates from hotel websites often missing;
- “Compared to typical” rate feature not useful or very relevant;
- Display small number of property reviews from Google users.
Google would have to iron out the glitches very quickly in order for it to be considered comprehensive and the one stop search engine for hotels.
Contributed by: Manisha Kumar, Sr. Account Manager, Milestone Internet Marketing