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?
Travel & Hospitality expert. Digital Marketing & Strategy Speaker and Consultant
Ever since Google acquired ITA software back in 2010, industry pundits have been pondering about Google's true intentions with the travel vertical. Google has been moving rather slowly with incremental steps that are certainly significant - think of Googlt Flights or Google Hotel Search - but haven't been necessarily embraced with a vast majority of online travelers. Yet.
In the past two years alone, we have seen a change with search results, making Google an even more important player than it already was. Just look at how the Knowledge Graph turns up results, suggesting hotel review scores not only stemming from Google Reviews, TripAdvisor and OTAs, but also giving a "location" score, and categorizing them by traveler type (solo, couple, family, business).
Rates are also much more prominent than ever, with Google Hotel Ads now taking hold and becoming prevalent. It's no wonder Mark Okerstrom, CEO of Expedia Group, mentioned his fiercest competitors weren't Booking or Ctrip, but rather Google - and to a lesser extent, Amazon.
The real question remains: will Google go all-in and sell directly to consumers? Expedia and Priceline groups together represent an estimated 5% of worldwide ad revenues for Google, so there is a lot at stakes here.
Hotels should therefore continue to actively manage their presence on Google My Business and Hotels Ads, and keep a close eye on how things unfold.