Planners and business event travelers now have a seamless source for comparison shopping.
Meeting planners are already facing challenges when it comes to attendees booking outside a room block. Earlier this year, during a PCMA Convening Leaders conference in Pittsburgh, the results of a study with Kalibri Labs showed that nearly half of citywide convention attendees book outside the room block.
Google’s hotel search feature is attempting to fill this space by streamlining the hotel search process with comparison shopping and booking straight from a single link. The company just updated Google.com/hotels and Google.com/travel/hotels to allow users to begin their hotel search directly from this page. Prior to March, when people used the Google Hotel Search feature through Google.com/hotels or Google.com/travel/hotels, they were directed to a page that instructed them to go to Google Search or Maps to find hotels. This referred to a product the company retired several years ago—HotelFinder.
The goal, which the company says is unrelated to the Hotel Search experience introduced on mobile in February 2018 and desktop in October 2018, is to direct users who are clearly seeking hotel information through Google’s current hotel search functionality as opposed to referring to a long-retired product.
“A quick, easy search engine encourages people to find lower prices outside the room block,” said consultant, speaker and writer Corbin Ball, CSP, CMP, on the subject. “People are doing it already with Airbnb and alternate sites,” he noted. “This makes it slightly easier.”
When users link to Google’s hotel site and choose a city, a full map of hotel options appears now, as does a list with visible prompts to Book a room. The links go to third-party booking sites such as Booking.com and Travelocity, but there is often an option to book right on Google.
According to a blog post by Eric Zimmerman, Google’s director of travel product management, “Google’s hotel search experience includes better price filtering, easier-to-find amenity information and the ability to book right from Google.”