Google Travel Updates How it Recommends Flights and Hotels – Search Engine Journal

Google has updated it’s travel portal to include pandemic relevant information. Now Google’s travel portal is showing Travel Trends that reveal additional information about flights and hotels, changing  how decision making is done.

Travel Trends

Google.com/travel/ is Google’s travel portal. The portal has been updated with what Google calls travel trends.

The travel trends shows consumers multiple kinds of information that takes into account the Covid-19 epidemic.

The changes improve on pandemic related features already in search and Google Travel.

Google already provides Covid-19 related warnings about destinations in the regular search:

The new changes affect the Google Travel portal and give additional information on a more granular level.

For example, Google Travel will show useful information like hotel and flight availability for each destination.

Hotel and Flight Availability Information

According to Google:

“In the next week, you’ll see the percentage of open hotels with availability and flights operating at the city or county level based on Google Flights and Hotels data from the previous week.

When you visit google.com/travel and tap on a trip you’re planning, or search for hotels and things to do, you’ll now see trendlines for hotel and flight availability. Links to additional local resources, including the number of COVID-19 cases, are provided as well.”

The context of the user interface is hotels. So the interface starts out showing hotel related information.

Clicking on a small icon reveals additional information related to flights.

Screenshot Of Hotel and Flight Availability

Travel Advisory Warning

The interface also shows travel advisories that warn travelers if the destination is infested with Covid-19.

Clicking the “Travel advisory” button takes the user to a Google search page that informs the traveler of the Covid-19 situation at the destination they are researching.

Clicking on the tab labeled Statistics shows the current Covid-19 infection situation.

As you can see in the screenshot below, Google says that Las Vegas is trending upward.

Screenshot of Google Warning Shows Las Vegas is Trending for Covid-19

Screenshot of Google's Covid-19 trend for Las VegasThis is the search page that Google shows for Las Vegas Covid-19 trends. This graph allows a traveler to make an informed decision as to whether they want to continue on their journey or select a safer destination.

Free Cancellation Filter

The Google travel portal has also added a filter that when toggled shows only hotels that offer free cancellation.

Google added this filter to help travelers who might change their mind because of Covid-19 considerations.

Screenshot of Google Travel's cancellation filterToggling the free cancellation filter will restrict the Google Travel search results to hotels that are flexible and offer free cancellation.

According to Google:

“Due to the uncertainty around COVID-19, people often want flexibility when making travel plans. Many hotels and vacation rentals now offer free cancellation to give travelers more confidence when planning trips. Search for a hotel, and later this month a vacation rental, on google.com/travel and filter to see only rooms or properties with free cancellation policies.”

A Lesson in Being Useful

Google Travel and Covid-19 Relevance

Google’s travel portal is an example of how to be useful and relevant to travelers.

As a contrast, Hotels.com features a warning at the top of the page, asking users to (presumably) go to Google to research health advisories.

Screenshot of hotels.com warning about covid-10This screenshot shows a Covid-19 warning at the top of a Hotels.com web page, advising users to go to a search engine and research Covid-19 information for Las Vegas.

Rather than keep users on their site and provide this information, Hotels.com is telling users to go somewhere else to research health advisories or perhaps not do the research.

Whatever their reasoning, Hotels.com does not provide the information itself.

Google takes a different approach by providing the information that is useful to users. By doing that, Google keeps users on their site and they also makes users happy, thereby building loyalty.

Google has failed at a lot of things, like building a social network or creating a competitor to YouTube.

Those failures demonstrate that it’s not enough for Google to “favor” its own properties in order to beat their competitors. It’s not that simple, it takes more than that.

If other companies focused more on keeping their users informed and happy, the loyalty that creates would keep them from running to Google.

Being relevant and keeping users happy is what keeps users returning to Google, it’s what they do best.

Google’s new travel portal is Google doing what they do best, organizing the world’s information and making it useful.

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