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Google Launches Hotel Finder

 8:23 pm on Jul 28, 2011 (gmt 0)


Finding the right hotel can make or break your vacation, so with this in mind, we’re introducing Hotel Finder, a new experimental search tool specifically designed to help you find that perfect hotel. Google Hotel Finder makes it easy to narrow down the options:
Figure out where to stay: To help you figure out where the action is, Hotel Finder shines a "tourist spotlight" on the most visited areas of U.S. cities. We select an initial shape for you based on what’s most popular or you can draw a shape around the area where you want to stay, e.g. on the ocean or along Sunset Boulevard.

hotel finder:



 1:23 am on Jul 29, 2011 (gmt 0)

another interpretation: with these steps, google continues eliminating their natural serps. it's the easiest thing to do: just put them out of the view below the fold of page one and you're done.

fill the gap with apps and tools that occupy the commercially relevant verticals enriched with conventional ads. google taking the role of a super-affiliate for the big brands so that natural serps for the corresponding keyword sets become redundant anyway in their view: too little money in the content network. users will even be satisfied with the outcome. less choice but no fuss, no spam, just google and their partners.

all businesses that don't directly sell unique goods or services will be eliminated. the rest will have to pay, either through affiliate fees or through adwords.


 1:43 am on Jul 29, 2011 (gmt 0)

Aka the Yellow Pages


 3:29 am on Jul 29, 2011 (gmt 0)

Just thought I'd throw this into the mix , re pending IPO's in the travel sector :

It’s been eight months since Kayak filed its registration statement for an IPO and there have been five amendments in the interim, but Kayak has yet to become a public company.

So, what’s the deal? [tnooz.com...]

Khosrowshahi said at an investor conference that the IPO filing had been scheduled for the spring but would now be made "in a matter of weeks".

TripAdvisor has come under pressure from a rival offering from Google Inc. (GOOG), but said it had "overcome" the impact of Google Places, which he did not expect to expand from search and advice into handling transactions [marketwatch.com...]

Cold feet and delays in the sector ? This latest test should motivate them to move fast. Watch what the analysts are picking up on both sides including Google's.


 6:22 am on Jul 29, 2011 (gmt 0)

This is phase 1: get rid of meta search sites. Small local OTAs will not be able to get a listing under the "Book" button so they'll die, too.
Phase 2: allow hotels to fill the Google Calendar. The first sign of this was launched recently with "Appointments" in Google Calendar - if you are a hairdresser you can let your customers book their slot online. Why not book hotels and restaurant tables the same way?

Google has enough power to get into transaction and put all customer service onto business owners.


 7:00 am on Jul 29, 2011 (gmt 0)

I, too, expected this from Google. They are not creative enough to find new niches or products, so they just grab what's lying around and integrate it into their main real estate, the Google search engine.

Ultimately, this strategy will fail. If economic history teaches us one thing, it is that people WANT diversity; they WANT variety. They WANT to be able to chose between offerings. Translated to the web this means: they WANT different sites offering different products and services, different approaches to the same problem.

Or vice-versa: they don't want GOOGLE for everything. They will be turned off by the boring single provider that promises them everything. If you could get your favorite cereals every morning from now to the end of days, but just these, how long would it take you to be entirely fed up?

Unless Google is much much better than competing sites, they will only be able to grab a fraction of the money. Given the size of the market (and considering Google's strengths), this is still real money. But I don't think they will reach the same level of near monopoly as they did in search.

I stopped using Google 18 months ago and switched to Bing. While I still use Google occasionally, I don't like their approach to the web and see how they are hurting us webmasters in the long term.

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with Microsoft or Bing, and I do not hold their stock.


 7:19 am on Jul 29, 2011 (gmt 0)

I am looking forward to Google Flight Finder...Real Estate Finder...Job Finder...and...so...on...

This is really frightening from where I am sitting. Where does it all end?

Also, the big OTA's / media like Priceline , Expedia , etc. are too big for Google.

Who says? Google has the vehicle to take on anyone they choose and they will.

Its time for the world to get its act together and call a halt to this. It has gone far enough. It's now official folks, Google does EVIL. I would like to know where they plan to be in ten or twenty years time? Internet domination?


[edited by: BeeDeeDubbleU at 7:30 am (utc) on Jul 29, 2011]


 7:24 am on Jul 29, 2011 (gmt 0)

But then again, we cannot say they did not warn us - from their corporate information pages ...
Google’s mission is to organize the world‘s information and make it universally accessible and useful.

What they do not do is qualify it by adding ...
"We don't care about the collateral damage. We just want to own all your information, make massive amounts of money and we don't give a **** who we take down in the process."


 7:48 am on Jul 29, 2011 (gmt 0)

we own the internet, so enough is enough, it's all ours

...they just grab what's lying around and integrate it into their main real estate, the Google search engine.

That shopping site didn't get traction. Looks like plan b is in play.

Google destroyed the analytics space by subsidizing the product with their adwords earnings. That's unfair competition and Google should be investigated for that. It is bold and foolish of Google to roll this out and challenge the world to sue them. This is the kind of arrogance that gave Microsoft a bad name, from which Microsoft has never recovered.

Google appears to be intent on frittering every bit of trust they have been granted by their users. Once that trust is lost Google will be stucked. Once the lawsuits and accusations start, the honeymoon is over for Google. When the public perceives Google, rightly or wrongly, as a money grubbing sleezebag like the oil companies, expect an exodus to another search engine.

Only one company is poised to step into that vacuum to offer a credible challenge. Bite of Apple?

Marketing Guy

 8:09 am on Jul 29, 2011 (gmt 0)

It's a very clever move. It's a much easier job indexing and ranking the known web if no one needs a website and can just use Google for everything. ;)


 8:12 am on Jul 29, 2011 (gmt 0)

We really need a viable independent, not for profit search engine. The time has come.


 8:13 am on Jul 29, 2011 (gmt 0)

Who says? Google has the vehicle to take on anyone they choose and they will.

Maybe i wasn't clear enough in my words. Google is bigger than these guys. But the slab of OTA business from Expedia , Priceline etc. that they currently, enjoy Google will break up. Google want's as much direct participation from principles , not middlemen. They want more $$'s clearly.


 10:32 am on Jul 29, 2011 (gmt 0)

" We really need a viable independent, not for profit search engine. The time has come. "

BeeDee I agree but at a minimum it would be good to see the likes of Bing grow.

Marketing Guy

 10:53 am on Jul 29, 2011 (gmt 0)

What we need is to wean the web dev and Internet marketing community off of their reliance on Google and maybe that would encourage competitors to grow.


 10:54 am on Jul 29, 2011 (gmt 0)

It is quite evident that Google's aim is to take over everything online that they can monetise. If they are allowed to do so the Internet as we know it will cease to exist. As someone said earlier it will be effectively just the "GoogleNet".

They have no scruples and many people will be financially destroyed by this. They know it and they don't give a ****! What happened to all that they once stood for?

Sorry to be so gloomy but I find it quite depressing that they are allowed to do this. By the time the penny drops with the non "net savvy" politicians it may be too late.


 11:11 am on Jul 29, 2011 (gmt 0)

BeeDee I agree but at a minimum it would be good to see the likes of Bing grow.

I agree to some extent, any viable competition for Google would be a good thing but let's be honest, M$ would be doing precisely the same thing given the opportunity.

I am actually amazed that governments don't have the nous to see what is happening here. If they don't get their collective acts together pretty soon it may be too late.

Marketing Guy

 11:24 am on Jul 29, 2011 (gmt 0)

There is no viable competition for Google - just a bunch of people trying to play catch up. Only really the unexpected rise of innovations like FB, Twitter, SU, smartphone apps, etc have really challenged Google in any way and they really only focus on their own markets. Realistically businesses need to systematically target Google services and either vastly improve on them or render them obsolete with innovations in order to even have a chance of toppling the giant.

It's unlikely that an single organisation could do that, but there's no reason an independent couldn't come along and, for example, take on the Adsense market (let's face it, Adsense sucks for publishers - it could be done a lot better).


 12:35 pm on Jul 29, 2011 (gmt 0)

It's unlikely that an single organisation could do that

That is why we have the Monopolies Commission here in the UK


 1:14 pm on Jul 29, 2011 (gmt 0)

I just want to share my 2 cents here. I have been in to Microsoft World Wide Partner Conference in LA early this month. The major attraction for all partners (more than 15000 from worldwide) were ability of bing to do convenient hotel price compare and purchase. This was kind of awesome news for many of them. Even it was showcased in keynotes in one of the day the power of bing.[actually, it is not seperate tool, but when we do normal hotel search it offers this add on feature)

Now back to this news, I guess this may be a rush, rush feature released by MBAs running google right now and to ensure they do not lack the feature bing already have and already inspired many partners of Microsoft to lean toward bing.
I may be wrong, but I see as MBA at work at Google who followed all Microsoft activities at their conference at LA.

[edited by: kartiksh at 1:17 pm (utc) on Jul 29, 2011]


 1:16 pm on Jul 29, 2011 (gmt 0)

I like the shape feature. The interface could use a "search now" button or something like that, but the shape thing is def something one of the other big travel sites should have implemented by now.


 1:56 pm on Jul 29, 2011 (gmt 0)

BeeDeeDubbleU , as Kartiksh has pointed out Bing already have a similar feature. Google is becoming like the yellow pages or goglenet as somebody has said , without a viable option there is probably a further limit to how far that can go.. creating a two tiered economy online with those willing to pay the google tax more likely ( but of course not gauranteed ) to succeed. Im perhaps incorrectly looking at this in view of the broader picture where organic serps are slowly being pushed below the fold.


 2:16 pm on Jul 29, 2011 (gmt 0)

i said long ago goog is just building its own walled garden like AOL did back in the 90s. The people on AOL back then didn't know anything that didn't pop up on their AOL home screen. Its that way right now and the walls are only getting higher, if you live in googs world and only search goog you only see what they feed you, they used to feed you a diverse range of info. Not anymore now its very limited.

They've also done it in a slow backwards way that their users didn't notice and are already so goog blind they won't change anyway.


 2:28 pm on Jul 29, 2011 (gmt 0)

So this is the official end of the road for travel (hotel) affiliates?


 2:30 pm on Jul 29, 2011 (gmt 0)

Not quite, it has not been fully rolled out and it is only for the USA at present but if I ran a hotel affiliate I would not booking any holidays based on my projected earnings for the next couple of years. :(

Who's next?


 2:46 pm on Jul 29, 2011 (gmt 0)

We really need a viable independent, not for profit search engine. The time has come.

Very true, only problem is in more than 10 years online I haven't seen a single bot coming around that would be useful for such purpose. Some bots are, according to their own statement, merely for the use of reselling collected information while others, after years of crawling, are still "developing" the end result.
Bing's crawling is pathetic while Yahoo! is doing fine, only few use Y! for search these days and persistent crawlers from Asia are of little use when you have little or no interest in traffic from that part of the world.

Oh well, maybe somewhere a mushroom will pop up ...... wishful thinking ;o)


 3:00 pm on Jul 29, 2011 (gmt 0)

Google is turning into walmart or something? I see too much of greed here.


 4:52 pm on Jul 29, 2011 (gmt 0)

let's face it, development of a viable competition for an established online service keeps getting harder. the little guy could have had success a couple of years ago with a good website, word-of-mouth and a fair amount of luck. in the right place at the right time. this era is ending now.

it's not surprising, that the only serious competition for googles' search engine is microsoft bing. and that the only serious competition for facebook may be google+. the big guys are among themselves by now. the barriers to entry have been lifted hugely in terms of costs for technical equipment and broader publicity. if one of the big guys brings out a service, no matter what, every media outlet in the world does free promotion by covering the topic. the news is full of google, apple, microsoft, facebook stories. while every participant who implements their buttons, apps and widgets reinforces this structure and makes it even harder for other users to switch.

the hope for a startup that pops out of nowhere and rolls up the market is dwindling. considering the consolidating markets and of course the constant opportunity to be bought up or wiped out by the big guys, the probability for upcoming market players to be successful is sinking further and further. hard times ahead for the independent webmaster.


 7:00 pm on Jul 29, 2011 (gmt 0)

I think ultimately there needs to be some kind of line drawn in the sand in terms of how far this type of activity can go.

Google holds the Lion's share of search.

In me opinion they are unfortunately becoming a search engine that is catered to creating affiliate relationships that drive their bottom line, and in many ways it seems to me that this is becoming conflict of interest.

It will only be a matter of before the number one result for hotels in x is a Google listing or widget that carefully takes the user away from diverse results, and directly to pages which display (cough, cough) "natural selections of hotels and carefully selected partners Google knows you want to see"


 11:10 pm on Jul 29, 2011 (gmt 0)

It will only be a matter of [ time ] before the number one result for hotels in x is a Google listing or widget that carefully takes the user away from diverse results

I can't get my head around how Google can run a good search product by building it's own directory search platforms in various verticals. And i also struggle with how it could be viable for hotels and consumers alike. Sooner or later marketers at the hotels and OTA's will say enough is enough. This doesn't work for me and the returns are not there compared with other channels and marketing methods.

There isn't a lot of media realestate on search for key terms.

In Paris for example there are around 1500+ hotels competing for visibility. How are they going to get a place on the front page of a search, even if you drill down by maps and localities within Paris.

And if you use filters, where's the advantage to Google in terms of bidding placements, since to be a good product it must show all of the hotels arranged by filter criteria. So lot's of folks won't be paying to be in the displays.

If they are trying to get social engagement, unless they are in transactions they won't get good reviews or sufficient density on a global scale - so where's the content coming from?

Google needs a bit of chaos to be a viable product IMO . If it becomes too organised and overly self interested in verticals it may peak and find other options competing with it. Where Google's self interest lies, is in the removal or containment of the middlemen such as Expedia , Priceline , Tripadvisor etc etc and the direction of traffic via itself for the purposes of revenue improvements.

In travel, this type of thing may work well will flights, where the airlines are prepared to pay directly for visibility - because there are only minimal options between A and B with available media real estate, but I'm not sure about hotels, or indeed restaurants and other business listings.

It's really worth watching what analysts are saying about the pending, but delayed IPO's of Kayak and Tripadvisor etc to get a sense of where the market thinks this is going in the medium to long term. Clearly, the delays indicate a lot of uncertainty in the wake of Google.

I'm really not sure how this will play out. But there's a lot of disruption ahead while Google experiments. Maybe it's the disruption that Google creates with products like these that drives it's ad revenue up and share prices in the same direction. Maybe it's a case of the bigger picture.


 4:21 am on Jul 30, 2011 (gmt 0)

This is a similar situation to the supermarkets in the UK, just worse because at least there are four or five viable alternative supermarkets in the UK.

Tesco is dominant though and when the opportunities for more massive out of town hypermarkets started to dry up they then started building smaller Tesco metro stores which are right now causing the closure of the smaller independents. They have wrecked high street shopping centres on a massive scale.

The public have at last woken up to what is happening and in a few isolated cases are rebelling. But the majority, although seeing what is happening, simply can't resist the convenience of one-stop shopping, me included.

It's the same with Google. A name the public can "trust" and that makes them very unlikely to search further.

To quote a famous UK sit com character, "We're all doomed Mr Mainwairing, doomed!".


 7:55 pm on Jul 30, 2011 (gmt 0)

"What happened to all that they once stood for? "

Only a complete fool ever believed they stood for anything other than themselves.

I am not one of them.

Even though I predicted this and more in 2002 - I have not got the answer - and I am not able to defend myself against their onslaught of the internet either.

Only site owners can challenge them - but it has to be millions of sites massively discrediting them - and it isnt going to happen.

The only thing I got wrong in my predictions over the years - is that I thought they would do it faster.

We are indeed - all doomed by our own apathy.


 9:56 pm on Jul 30, 2011 (gmt 0)

Where Google's self interest lies, is in the removal or containment of the middlemen such as Expedia , Priceline , Tripadvisor etc etc

Exactly! And neither containment nor removal will be easy to achieve.

Barry Diller, Chairman of Expedia [en.wikipedia.org ] and IAC Interactive [en.wikipedia.org ] exactly a lightweight, and he seems to know something about travel verticals. Not afraid of a fight, either.

And Priceline isn't exactly a business slouch, either.

Granted, not as big as Google, but perhaps with more diverse experience in development of customer-centric web properties, and staffs with more people skills.

All these companies have something significant to lose.

Just as we are exchanging opinions here, don't you think that the strategy sessions are already happening this weekend at these companies? They are obviously not clueless people, and they do have the ability and business acumen not only rally their own troops, but also to create the necessary alliances to preserve their business.

This will truly be an interesting encounter.

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