Google to launch Middle East Hotel Finder
Google is preparing the Middle Eastern launch of its Hotel Finder search tool that will allow hotel guests to search for available hotels and compare room rates instantly.
Already available through Google’s international sites, the US based search company is in the process of localising the service for the Middle East so that it is readily available on regional Google pages. However, the service will not currently allow users to make a direct booking, instead directing them to the booking pages of the relevant hotel company or online travel agent (OTA).
During a recent interview with Hotelier Middle East, Google industry head for travel Nigel Huddleston said: “We have started to develop our own products into the travel space, in terms of hotel finder and flight search. Now the booking is still through a third party and when you click a button you’ll go through to that company’s booking site, but the idea is to help simplify that incredibly complex customer journey online.”
The service will connect with Google Maps to allow users to search for and find hotels according to price, location and user ratings, as well as review detailed information about each hotel and its location.
“The reason we have developed these products is because we know that 70% of people look at a map site before they book a hotel, the vast majority of people read reviews before booking a hotel, and if we can put all of that into one space then we get the user from that intent to action in a much speedier process than the usual search through 15 different sites,” added Huddleston.
Huddleston also reiterated that while the new search tool will help hotel guests in the region find and compare hotels, Google is not currently making any plans to challenge established OTAs in the region.
“They shouldn’t necessarily be worried because a lot of our partners are also OTAs, so you will still have the option to book through them. So users have the choice to book through an OTA, which will have implications for them as they will have to decide whether they have price parity with their competitors, which is their choice at the end of the day. So most of them see it as a good thing, it’s a new effective channel with good booking volumes, and it is speeding up a painful online process,” said Huddleston.
While Huddleston was unable to specify a launch date for the new service, he stressed that Google was currently in the process of localising and releasing all of its online tools into the region as soon as possible.