Google Introduces Vacation-Booking Tool on Mobile

The Company Targets Online Travel Agencies with its Destinations on Google

Destinations on Google
Image © Google.

March 16, 2016

Spring is upon us this year. This is the time of the year when people travel around the most – a considerable amount of these trips are for leisure. While online vacation booking was, till recently, quite popular with travelers, the latest trend is for users to search destinations, fares and packages via their mobile phones. Recognizing this trend and sharply targeting online travel agencies, Google recently introduced its newest tool, Destinations on Google.

This interesting tool enables customers to discover new locales and plan and book their vacation, via mobile.

How does Destinations on Google Work?

Destinations on Google aims at helping users plan their leisure trips well in advance, as well as book tickets last-minute. While there is nothing new about travel apps on mobile, the giant has the edge here, as it has integrated Destinations into mobile search

People often find it difficult to plan out a trip all by themselves. Comparing prices; then booking flights, hotels, cabs and so on can prove to be a tedious task. This is why they prefer to approach online travel agencies to complete these formalities with ease.

Mobile users wanting to take advantage of Google’s new travel tool merely need to open the browser and then input the country they wish to visit. Posing a search query presents a list of options, which users can browse instantly and with ease, all thanks to its integration with Google Flights and Hotel search.

Travelers seeking to indulge in a specific kind of vacation activity such as hiking or surfing need to type that into the search box as well. Google then suggests locations which predominantly offer these facilities.

Apart from the above, a “Flexible Dates” filter enables users to filter their results by month, lowest fares and so on.

Tapping on the “Plan a trip” button lets users view flight and hotel rates and also gives them an estimate of the cost they could incur during the trip. In case they are unsure about the location they want to visit, they could browse most popular destinations and then make a decision accordingly.

Google’s introduction of this new travel tool may prove to be extremely beneficial for the company. Tech-savvy customers are always looking for streamlined services, which offer them multiple options for customization as well. Offering a more-or-less similar user experience across both desktop and mobile devices, the company could emerge a formidable competitor to other travel brands, forcing them to rethink their search strategy.

Will Destinations on Google Make its Mark?

Google said that, as of now, Destinations on Google is getting popular with the masses. The company mentioned that mobile travel inquiries rose by nearly 50 percent from January 2015, to the start of this year. The company, being already very strong in search, has a clear advantage over traditional players in the travel industry.

Industry experts, however, aver that Destinations on Google may not exactly overthrow the competition.

They agree, though, that it would surely mark the emergence of easy-to-use travel-planning services on mobile. This concept is yet very new and it will take a while for travel companies to tackle the several challenges associated with it, such as creating and maintaining mobile Websites, refining content to make it mobile-friendly, deep linking into apps, developing marketing strategies, offering personalized user experience and so on.

Google’s acquisition of ITA Software in 2011 had several online travel agencies fearing that it was working to create a travel vertical, directly targeting them.

However, it did not seem to have made much of a difference to consumers back then. Now the company has shifted focus to mobile, which is more relevant to users today.

While travel enthusiasts are increasingly going online to browse destinations, compare vacation tour packages and plan their trips, they still seem to prefer going to their travel agent to help out with the finer aspects of travel planning, ticket booking, visa management and so on. Hence, we have to wait and watch to see if Destinations on Google can actually make a difference to the travel industry as a whole.