Watch out, TripAdvisor. A major tech player is checking into the hotel industry, and it’s none other than search engine giant Google.
According to news reports, Google is making moves in order to become, among other things, an online hotel and travel aggregator. The company recently acquired the license to the technology of Room 77, a hotel metasearch platform, in hopes of boosting its travel and hotel search offerings.
It has also recently added new search features designed to provide consumers with more information on hotel properties and hospitality businesses. These include:
- Virtual walkthroughs and interactive views of hotel properties (see Google Business Photos)
- Hotel reviews, ratings, and photos, collected from users via the social network Google+ and Zagat (which Google has expanded with review information and place summaries)
- Hotel price ads that enable hotels and travel agencies to drive bookings through clicks
(Check out: “Is Your Hotel on Google Hotel Finder?”)
However, according to industry observers, Google may not necessarily be trying to become another TripAdvisor or another Expedia. In an analysis on Business Insider, hotel consultant Robert Cole says that these latest moves do not mean that Google is trying to become another online travel agency. The company, he thinks, is instead looking to be “able to aggregate content from multiple sources, but resolve it specifically for a room category and compare prices for king bed, ocean view, and concierge-level rooms. Google has zero interest in being an online travel agency.”
The Room 77 deal may more closely mirror TripAdvisor’s self-service platform TripConnect. Powered by metasearch technology, Room 77 searches the Web for rates and prices on over 200,000 hotels worldwide. One of its unique features is that guests booking 4- or 5-star hotels, or whose stays more than $400, get access to a complimentary room concierge to help them get the best possible rooms.