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Well, you wondered what Google would do in the travel space - Here it is... Google Hotel Finder. According to Google, "is a new experimental product that makes it easier to compare and book hotels that are found across the web."Albeit experimental, the basic premise is that you have a multitude of ways to search for your ideal place to rest your head at night.So, I hear you asking some questions:Where are they sending bookings?Not surprisingly, they are continuing with their alliances for the following in-direct distribution channels;
So, some good news for those looking for direct distribution. You still get the opportunity for someone to book direct and Google aren't just taking a back-hander for what would normally be an affiliate agreement (or maybe they are?!). Verbatim is;
"[..]available booking options for the hotel, which may include both the hotel owner and resale vendors. You can choose to book the room through any of these channels, including the hotel owner."
Where's the media being shown pulled from?
Seems like they are pulling media from Google Places listings. That's good news if you're on top of your Local SEO efforts, but not so much if you're not (hint, get on top of it)
Reviews?The other day we (seemingly) broke the news about the changes made in dumping 3rd party reviews. Seems to ring true here too in the fact that they apparently are only pulling from Google User reviews. (Hint #2, get your staff to come up with ways to engage guests to generate Google Reviews).What we like:We do like the Edit Shape function which allows you to set a specific sector on a map for the results in the UI to reflect.What we don't like:Look, we're biased here. We are paid to generate direct distribution for our hospitality clients, so any time a heavyweight throws in options other than booking direct to a client's website, we're never too happy. (We're not saying there isn't a place for in-direct channels, just not here). So, the fact that Google are obviously incentivised to send a stream of traffic to (and have been for a while, this isn't anything new) will have some dampening effect on what effect, if any, a public roll out will have.I've talked for years about how Google will make their move further into the travel sector. This is their boldest move yet but don't forget - all Google will do for the foreseeable future is to stream traffic to other websites in the most profitable way they can. I dare say we'll see options in AdWords soon for premium placements in these results. Chances are they will start off with the Display Network integration but the travels space is a huge segment for Google and some something more robust will come down the line should this experiment hit the open market. On the fullfilment side, Google will never get into the transactional side of this business. They aren't a customer support kinda company - period. So, they will generate revenus from traffic streaming in their normal ways.Your thoughts?