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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:



 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.


 10:05 am on Jul 31, 2011 (gmt 0)

You guys are forgetting that Expedia, Priceline etc are not really middlemen. As a hotel owner we supply our availability to these guys who go out and bring us bookings.

Now Expedia etc also have affiliates who also seed out their results. These are the sites that google does not like too much because they do not really add any value apart from the hotel comparison sites who do a good job of sorting the data.

I know one site owner who is on the new hotel finder and he says conversion is awesome, he was invited to participate as he has a real business where hoteliers fill in his calendar.

Now if you want to know my point of view, it is this. We have to fill in our availability in dozens and dozens of sites, it is a real PITA. There should be one calendar, one standard that everyone uses then anyone anywhere can take our availability, sign a contract and get selling.

Google should do this if it wants to smash Expedia and Priceline to pieces, but it does not want to, it wants to get the ad revenue per click. They want play with the source sites, not the crappy affiliates who just copy their content, rewrite descriptions and hope for the best.


 10:09 am on Jul 31, 2011 (gmt 0)

...and he seems to know something about travel verticals. Not afraid of a fight, either.
...All these companies have something significant to lose.

Yes that's correct but Yellow Pages knew a thing or two about business directories and look where they are now. Newspapers knew a thing or two about their industry and they are dying a slow death. What about the long gone aerial photography companies who were experts in their field?

The list of companies destroyed by Google goes on and on. As I say, who's next?

One thing we do know is that Google will not be shedding any tears for the businesses they destroy or the people who will lose their livelihoods as they relentlessly pursue their aim of total control of the Internet.


 1:30 pm on Jul 31, 2011 (gmt 0)

This whole G**gle empire building has now gotten out of hand and exchanging opinions on the subject or second-guessing its next move is pointless. Action needs to be taken now for if it goes on any longer no government will be able to protect the www. Only recently G refused point blank to comply with a ruling in Spain.

This is the year where revolutions overthrow totalitarian regimes so what is stopping us from organizing and launching our own revolution ?
For that I offer a domainname and hosting space which I could organize as a meeting place (no robots allowed).
In case you wonder what's the catch, there is none. I run websites on subjects that interest me and because I like building them. I do not run any kind of advertising on my sites nor were any affected by panda, I just want the internet, or at least what can be saved of it, back as it used to be; from everyone for everyone.


 2:45 pm on Jul 31, 2011 (gmt 0)

it wants to get the ad revenue per click

From what I have seen so far, I think you are right.
But, I do want to carefully watch this develop.

I know one site owner who is on the new hotel finder and he says conversion is awesome

Conversion as measured by clicks on his ad, or conversion of those clicks into bookings? Or, both? Does he have enough spread between the cumulative click costs and commissions from bookings?


 4:01 pm on Jul 31, 2011 (gmt 0)


I guess he meant it converts better than his normal adwords.

The stupid thing is though that price parity is enforced on all the main sites, so once you click to expand the offers it will show 99% of the time the same rates.... i.e

expedia $88, booking com $88. hotels .com $88


 5:03 pm on Jul 31, 2011 (gmt 0)

price parity is enforced on all the main sites

I was actually surprised to see that statement.

Did a quick check of the listed booking sites for 5 random NYC hotels.
- 2 led to a single offer page on the booking site for the advertised price;
- 2 other led to a multiple offer page on the booking sites, offering different type rooms at different prices; 1 price on each was the advertised price;
- 1 led to a multiple offer page on the booking site where no prices matched or came close to (allow for difference due to taxes, etc.) the advertised price.

However, the consistency of pricing with the advertised price starts me thinking in the direction of some type of a promotional deal, possibly required for inclusion in the experiment or for being listed as a booking hotel. From my experience as a shopper and user, I have rarely seen hotels with identical prices.

And, who was doing the "enforcing".


 5:41 pm on Jul 31, 2011 (gmt 0)

yes, there are different room types depending on the system that we can use to mix it up. The priceline and expedia police have scrapers to compare stuff an enfore price parity as per their contracts if the need be.


check this job out



 11:27 pm on Jul 31, 2011 (gmt 0)

Rate parity is difficult to display because the technology is insufficiently mature to get to individual room rates at the meta level. In rate comparisons, it's normal too see uncomparibale product offerings. Google is only able to accommodate the meta level at this stage - and it will be a long time before it could ever get deeper.

There are rate parity systms in the market, but for the reasons mentioned above they are not really that good beyond sampling limited data sets.

Channel management software is making big inroads for hotels to have one source of distribution to multiple outlets - although slow to achieve in some regions, but price and deal contracting will make it impossible for Google to even want to be involved here for various reasons well publicised, not the least issues over market dominance in the US and EU. However, they are likely looking at other forms of contracting which assist in the channel process at other levels, more on the media display level. But with a business model bigger than China i can't imagine them looking anything other than the high level view.


 4:03 pm on Aug 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

I just messed around with the feature looking up some random Chicago hotels and the booking button is completely useless.
All the rates are the same and the Google Hotel Finder site is basically duplicate content of hotels.com. I found very little value from clicking on any of the ads beside besides going directly to the hotel site. To me sending visitors to priceline, expedia, etc. is not a good user experience. It's just a duplicate of what they can find Google's hotel finder.


 5:01 pm on Aug 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

I am hopeful that if they keep pulling stunts like this it will eventually catch up with them. They are slowing migrating into all the top earning verticals. I think I am going to start buying domains in very small marginal verticals and make my money there. Until Google starts taking over those as well


 5:47 pm on Aug 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

Didn't take long. Here's who's next ...


 5:57 pm on Aug 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

I dont find any reason to blame google for, I am unsure when my business is next, it is 100% possible competition grows and takes off competition(s)..

this is life for smaller fishes


 6:55 pm on Aug 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

You'll be a Rupert Murdoch fan too then?



 11:10 pm on Aug 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

Expedia exec confirms Google HotelFinder as Metasearch and advertising product
(emphasis is poster's)
but note the use of the word "fundamentally".
Expedia will be monitoring the just-launched Google Hotel Finder, which is fundamentally a metasearch and advertising product, Khosrowshahi said. Expedia participates in Google Hotel Finder and “we welcome innovation,” he added. Khosrowshahi said Expedia can buy traffic at attractive rates through metasearch. “That’s a channel we play very well in,” he said.[tnooz.com ]

As President and CEO of Expedia, Dara Khosrowshahi apparently has an ongoing relationship with Google, as evidenced by his statement (made in the context of an interview regarding Expedia's testimony to the DOJ regarding Google's planned acquisition of ITA):
Khosrowshahi: “We talk to them [Google] all the time. They are a great partner of ours and we work with them quite well on a daily, weekly, monthly basis, and again, the subject comes up. They let us know about the transaction signing pretty early on and the discussions with Google are ongoing, just as our relationship is ongoing.
[tnooz.com ]

So, with this from someone who is actively involved with Google, and participating in the Hotel Finder debut, perhaps we can put aside our many other conjectures regarding Google's intentions, aside. An Occam's Razor that many of us missed?

Isn't the Google Hotel Finder pretty much a MFA site with duplicate content? But ... that's another thread ... want to review the site?


 11:39 pm on Aug 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

I wonder if Kayak in meta search and hotels feel the same way. Expedia's warm relationship with Google is the same as Ebay's with Google. Purely commercial and liable to challenges. What choice do they have but to work with them.


 12:38 am on Aug 2, 2011 (gmt 0)

I think I saw this on Nature years ago. Webmasters gave birth to Google and now Google eats its parents....no wait, that was bugs or something. Oh well. Same thing.


 11:02 am on Aug 2, 2011 (gmt 0)

imo this is just a continuation of google's existing policy - all major keyword searches for "*destination* hotels" are taken up anyway by map results and adwords above the fold.

travel site owners have to come up with something new to entice visitors. so we are specialising in really detailed content. this helps us rank for phrases like "things to do in july in *destination*" as opposed to just "hotels in *destination*". google/booking.com/expedia can't monopolise every keyword.

nonetheless this news isn't good.


 8:03 pm on Aug 2, 2011 (gmt 0)

Google is not the only "search engine" to be active in the travel vertical.
Take a wander over to Bing travel [bing.com ]and see what's going on over there with hotels.


 2:03 pm on Aug 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

I'm in your camp, Staffa. I'll even make a donation to the cause. Let's get the campaign started. Time to #stopgoogle


 10:02 am on Oct 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

Good news! We've expanded the Hotel Finder experiment to include hotels around the world. It's still in English only with hotel prices in US dollars, but I know a few of you will be glad to hear this news :)
Jacqueline N
Google Employee

Not long before major chains join in to distribute directly alongside OTA's.

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