Google Hotel Finder’s Impact On The Industry
The critics have been talking about Google’s appearance for months. Rumors started a year ago when the company bought ITA and its massive platform that provides Google with flight inventory. With this purchase, Google confirmed its intention to take part in the lucrative series of tourism, and that it was going to prepare for the great role in the series: the smart Google Hotel Finder, in this case with hotels (at the moment only for searches in the USA).
Google Hotel Finder’s first appearance on stage has not let anybody down. It remains faithful to its style with a minimalist screen presence (right), which is clear and at the same time looking for that special relation with the audience.
At the moment it is also totally ads-free. Its character promises you that it will find hotels for you, and that is exactly what it does, with discretion, without any complications and with the speed and agility that have become synonymous with all its previous performances.
“Don’t be evil”: Will it be good?
Google doesn’t like playing evil roles. “Don’t be evil” is its informal slogan. That’s what it says in itscode of conduct. However, the company has gotten into a series where the characters have totally differing interests but are connected at the same time. How will it translate its good intentions? Will it try to keep everybody happy? Will it just simply fall into its place without shooting anybody or threaten the status quo among the cast?
To make things even more complicated and adding some excitement, Google already has its own interests, and preserving them will be its own personal challenge: especially Adwords, a very important element of this series.
In the last episode of our soap opera, the audience was mainly focusing on the torturous love-hate relationship between the two main characters of the latest season: the hotel, eager to get the maximum number of people sleeping with it every night, and the superhero, the OTA, which also competes wholeheartedly for the love of the client and is more successful at getting it, especially because it manages to get the customer’s loyalty.
Will Google ask for commission? Will the hotel end up paying it?
What makes Google stand out from the others is that it lives off publicity, not off commissions, and what it shows at the moment is the prices as “Ads.” These ads are a new system that Google is testing specifically for hotel prices. At the moment, it only gathers data from the big middlemen, without showing directly the prices of the provider.
The mere fact of charging money for being able to show the price, even if it’s unbiased, is not good news for anybody. This situation contributes to perpetuate the eternal system of multiple levels of middlemen, with every one of them asking for their slice of the cake. At the moment the hotel pays Google through the commissions to the middlemen. The innovation of Google Hotel Finder is that it could open the doors to opportunity, and hotels could pay directly to be able to display their own pricing. Great opportunity, but at the same time it goes against the possibility that direct sales could be cheaper.
The leading actor up to now… threatened?
Of course, OTAs appear also in this episode with its price and its link. These sites are already seasoned actors used to perform best in any scene. In fact, one of the reasons of their popularity is that besides being good in individual performances (for instance, in the page Booking.com — or Expedia.com in the U.S.), they also captivate the audience with its cameos in third parties ventures like affiliates or metasearch engines. They want to be in all the scenes and be victorious with all their superpowers (for instance, with the minimum price, that they obsess about).
Others compete with similar roles
The group of comparison sites or metasearch engines work as a directory for hotels, and they point the audience towards the superhero-middlemen.
It seems as if Google Hotel Finder is not offering the audience anything new that other less important actors hadn’t already tried, like Kayak among others. The only significant difference is the prominence that the hotel’s website gets from Google (Kayak did show a link to the hotel, but only if it didn’t have any other source).
Every one of them displays different styles and nuances, Kayak prefers a lot of information, while Google prefers simplicity. Why is it expected of Google to get more attention than the others have got so far? Is it using its brand name to attract the audience?
What can the hotel do?
As you can see, there are more questions than answers about the future of the series, but it hasn’t been written yet and nobody knows what’s happening, At the moment, it’s only present in American screens for hotel searches in that country. It’s expected that it will be released in Europe in the next few months. The hotel can prepare itself in two different ways:
– Making sure that it has filled out the information and optimized Google Places, a platform that is being increasingly used to identify and gather information from the companies.
– Thinking about an issue that many hotels find difficult to consider: Direct sales are getting cheaper and cheaper. Google Hotel Finder forces you to think about it again.
Is the hotel ready to invest to appear directly paying the same as for appearing through middlemen? Probably, many hotels will comply; however, the belief that direct sales carry low costs is cracking up. It’s a totally new mentality.
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Posted on August 29, 2011, in Hotel Reputation and Revenue Management and tagged digital development in hospitality, google hotel finder, google places, Online Travel Agent, revenue management. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.