Google Launching into the Online Travel Market?

Google Maps Hotel Pricing Feature

Click on the image to enlarge

Interesting to see an article on the Mashable website yesterday about Google Testing Hotel Prices in Google Maps. This news, which was announced fairly casually on Monday on the Google Maps blog siting it as an “experiment”, will no doubt spark up interest among the Online Travel Agents (OTA’s) as a new way to advertise pricing and get click through traffic to their website.

For travellers it’s means they can use google maps to find accommodation with the ability to search on dates of travel to get real time pricing and then click through to the provider website to book.

From Google’s perspective it’s probably seen as an evolution of the maps business listings and another way to develop advertising revenues rather than a desire to become part of the online travel market, however it will no doubt have an impact on OTA’s and introduce a fairly competitive necessity to be included as an advertiser on the google maps.

Of interest to accommodation providers will be whether they too get the opportunity to be one of the listed advertisers to attract direct bookings or whether the pricing has to come through an automated feed from participating OTA’s or booking systems – if it’s a bidding model like Google Adwords then it’s likely the large global OTA’s will dominate this opportunity.

Potentially the effects of this will be lesser felt in New Zealand as many accommodation suppliers do not participate on the global OTA’s, leaving the opportunity open perhaps for more of the local accommodation booking websites and accommodation providers themselves.

So time will tell on how this will all work and impact on the market, we will keep an eye on progress of the likely roll out of this new feature. In the meantime, if I were an accommodation provider I’d make sure I’m listed on a selection of OTA’s.