Google quietly adds instant booking for hotels, copying TripAdvisor
For the first time, Google users can book a hotel room without ever leaving the search giant’s familiar desktop interface.
The addition of assisted booking to Google.com/hotels, the search giant’s metasearch tool, hasn’t been officially announced. But the Google-faciliated bookings appear to be slowly rolling out across a select handful of listings in U.S. desktop search.
Google has long offered hotel metasearch through its Search and Maps products. But it has always handed off users to hotel websites and online travel agencies to complete the transactions.
The new strategy of keeping users on its recognizable and minimalist Google user experience — with barely any hotel branding — may lead to increased conversions.
But it also runs at a cross-current to its business of helping middlemen online travel agencies get bookings. Expedia Inc and Priceline Group contribute to about 5% of Google advertising income, by some estimates.
This facilitated-booking strategy is similar to the one followed by TripAdvisor. For about a year the user-reviews giant has been rolling out Instant Booking, in which it faciliates metasearch transactions to keep users within its interface.
Google faces a similar challenge to the one facing TripAdvisor in getting hotels and hotel chains to participate in its instant booking tool.
None of the major US hotel chains appears to be participating in Google’s scheme so far — with only independents popping up in Tnooz searches. TripAdvisor has struggled, only landing Marriott, Choice and Accor so far.
Google as an OTA-lite
A search today for hotels in Washington, D.C., turned up Hotel Rouge, a property in the Kimpton chain recently acquired by International Hotels Group (IHG).