What to expect with Google's new positioning in travel?
Launched earlier in May, Google Trips puts merges flights, hotels, packages, home-rentals, car rentals, ridesharing, cruises, and experiences search in one single, übermensch ecosystem, combining the Google Trips app, Google Flights, and Google Hotels under one landing page. And, with Google getting bigger on the travel landscape, OTAs continue diversifying the risks: Booking.com (with Q1-2019 revenue down by 3%, don't forget), especially, alluded to new possible acquisition and it is rumored to announce its new stand-alone tours & attractions program any day now. My long-view on the topic is that Google is going to cover the whole traveler's journey, while OTAs will move more and more to B2B, possibly even SaaS, landscapes. How will these changes impact hotels? What's your take?
Google's corporate mission is “to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful.” – that's unchanged since Google's start in 1998. When you consider that mission it is no surprise that Google has improved the fractured nature of travel booking by consolidating and making it easier to research, book and manage your travel all in one area. More broadly, Google's evolution is in two areas: providing answers to questions that mean you don't need to visit websites anymore (think mobile voice search and Google My Business) and a pay-to-play model that increasingly minimizes the chances of a website visit that hasn't been paid for through a Google media product.
So what's the impact for hotels? Firstly its website traffic you won't get today that you might have got 12 months ago; guests searching for hotels don't need to visit 4-5 websites and spend hours researching when all information, pricing and booking options are presented at the first search. Secondly, marketing budgets; any effective marketing requires you to find your audience, and that audience is increasingly funneled towards search results that require ad budgets to participate. So as 2020 budget season approaches all hotels should plan to be in this Google Travel space, I can't think of a single exception to that, it is simply that important.