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Google Launches Hotel Finder

     
8:23 pm on Jul 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

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[insidesearch.blogspot.com...]

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:
[google.com...]
8:27 pm on July 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

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and another swathe of sites bite the dust...
8:44 pm on July 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

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is it just me or is google slowly coping all the large websites there is on the market
8:53 pm on July 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Wow... Another complete sector of the web, poof, controlled by Google... Wonder how Hotels.com and other major players that Google has lured into the fray over the years feel about this?
9:07 pm on July 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

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And how does tripadvisor feel?

If Google take on the travel and the hotel market, one of the most profitable areas, they are truly doomed. They are now spreading their net too wide.
9:08 pm on July 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

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This is no surprise, Google will slowly enter most verticals in this way and the public will wake up one day to a search engine that has "useful apps" that are promoted as the top result for many searches.

When these changes move from experimentation to production we will also see changes to advertising methods, an idea of how this will is here: Google To Replace AdWords In Selected Verticals? [webmasterworld.com]
9:17 pm on July 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Wait until they replace wikipedia with goopedia covered in adsense.
9:34 pm on July 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

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I just did a quick check for New York City and Las Vegas. Very sparse listings right now, and the "Book" button is not active on most of the hotels displayed.

When the "Book" button is active and clicked, the displayed box is labeled "Ads", and contains links to a selection of hotel booking sites such as Booking.com, Hotel.com, Hotel club.com, and Expedia.com, as well as the hotel website. It varies with the hotel. Selecting one of those options takes you to the page for that hotel at the selected booking site. I checked about a dozen different hotels, and did not experience an option of booking directly.

At first glance, they seem to be using this to sell ads right now.
But, I wouldn't rule out some affiliate relationship with the booking sites.
And, of course, handling the booking could be in the cards ... later.
9:34 pm on July 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

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They are being investigated by authorities in the USA and Europe, and they pull a stunt like this? Unbelievable - if it was any other company. They must be very confident of their 'friends in high places'.
9:53 pm on July 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Here's this morning's Google announcement of their Hotel Finder experiment:

[insidesearch.blogspot.com ]

and a snippet from the release seeming to confirm my observation about apparent ad selling

When you’re ready to book a hotel, you’ll find a selection of booking options from a range of available partners or directly from the hotel.
9:56 pm on July 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

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But, I wouldn't rule out some affiliate relationship with the booking sites
I think they already have ...
9:56 pm on July 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

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I wonder if the webmaster at HotelFinder.com will get any traffic out of this?
10:02 pm on July 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

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"Wait until they replace wikipedia with goopedia covered in adsense."

Yet to come.

-
10:04 pm on July 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

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google being creative again.
10:05 pm on July 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

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@bw100

Yeah, I agree that it's just a matter of time before the Big G either goes affiliate or works directly with the hotels.

Once they have this set-up, when people search for "location + hotel": the top results will all be Big B/hotelfinder

Scary.
10:08 pm on July 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

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It's like "Ok, we've let you all been making some money from your web sites for some time now, but we own the internet, so enough is enough, it's all ours."
10:11 pm on July 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

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It's like "Ok, we've let you all been making some money from your web sites for some time now, but we own the internet, so enough is enough, it's all ours."


Yep.
10:16 pm on July 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

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-1

It's not funny.

I'm being pummeled by shopping and places on one site that had done well for 8 years. As of their July 12th integration of shopping and places for this keyword... poof!
10:29 pm on July 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

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It's a no brainer. Google owns the media real estate. It has access to most of the data. It will effect direct Google organic search, Adwords , Google Places, and affiliate systems by replacing Adsense in key verticals with meta search widgets.

Bye bye travel affiliate marketing via OTA's , hello affiliate marketing via Google. Over the next few months we'll see this strengthen and roll out. If Google can meta search , why would you need an OTA , especially with the integration with ITA Software.

Gradually, Google will introduce the chains to sell direct, bypassing OTA's. Maybe they can fast track it with buying a hotel travel switch company, such as Pegasus or one of the other direct channel management software systems. Rumours are rife on direct negotiations with US hotel chains providing supply as well. Again a no brainer.

Additionally, further down the track, when participation density has been achieved , expect business listing to be charged for as well. YELP was a huge business in most countries, and it now has a perfect place to reside. Imagine every hotel eventually paying for a place listing as well.

Replicate this across key verticals, and the next 5 years will see intermediaries replaced by Google, not just in travel , but in other areas too.

No suprises here as Google has been speaking with key business' for quite a while. Just wait for the next set of verticals.
10:31 pm on July 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

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I am looking forward to Google Flight Finder...Real Estate Finder...Job Finder...and...so...on...
10:32 pm on July 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

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@mhansen
Wonder how Hotels.com and other major players that Google has lured into the fray over the years feel about this?

If Google can drive significant traffic their way, they might be somewhat happy, temporarily.
And, they can always increase their Adwords spending.
(Smooth move on Google's part: "feeding" the competition while you stifle them).

@superclown2
They are being investigated by authorities in the USA and Europe, and they pull a stunt like this?

IMO, Google has actually been pretty savvy about the current investigational climate, and their offerings in this experiment. At this moment, they are not booking hotels directly. This could easily be interpreted by the DOJ and FTC as Google not competing with booking companies, but actually cooperating with them in a business relationship that will drive traffic to their sites.

These guys are slick, and this is not the engineers at work, this is the MBAs and lawyers performing.
10:42 pm on July 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

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These guys are slick, and this is not the engineers at work, this is the MBAs and lawyers performing.

Good point.

Also, i don't see Google engaging transactions and fulfillment - it is not their game. But what's the difference between transactional and advertising monetisation anyway. We're talking useless semantics in the monetisation process because both translate to each other.

Also, the big OTA's / media like Priceline , Expedia , etc. are too big for Google. they want to break them down and translate the economy via themselves. Ultimately, the cost of distribution will go up dramatically for the small hotels , but to keep things alive , Google must encourage small business to compete.

Interesting times ahead.
10:51 pm on July 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

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They will probably rank #1 in Adwords for their services too.
I think it's time for the inevitable government intervention. Small businesses is what feeds the economy.
11:18 pm on July 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

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@Whitey
But what's the difference between transactional and advertising monetisation anyway.

Simply put: advertising monetization is 100%. Once the ad is placed, run and clicked on, the publisher gets paid. No dependency on completion of the transaction.

Transactional monetization depends on actually booking the hotel room. I would guess that if the Google Hotel Finder lists 5 booking sites, the traveler will click at least 3, maybe all 5, plus talk to the hotel, to determine the best available rate. And, I don't know how sticky those rates are. They may well go to their "favorite" hotel / travel site to compare. Or, go to one of those booking sites another day.

Less risk / higher return with advertising monetization when you are establishing a new brand.

We're talking useless semantics in the monetisation process ...

Well, to reiterate a point: from a legal perspective, the semantics are very important to Google right now. Lack of transactional monetization does not gives the appearance of direct competition to hotel booking websites.
11:26 pm on July 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

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No suprises here as Google has been speaking with key business' for quite a while

this is actually true - I have been told that certain companies have been invited to the plex for discussions- who told me , a company mentioned in this thread...
edit spelling
11:36 pm on July 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

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@bw100 - well put, but my point is that they are often translatable. I know business' that take a click rate and translate it statistically to equate to conversion rate averages / or / fulfilment averages, and vice versa, especially when different models have to integrated side by side in a display.

Hotels and business' in general prefer fulfilment revenue ie transactions, but they are having to more and more translate this, because the tracking is starting to get lost. Marketers like Google thrive on muddying the waters so that you have no idea of the true value. You don't know the publising rate, you just accept what Google gives you, and soon you won't know the transaction rate ( depending on where you are in the channel ) beyond a certain level of activity which leads to ever deepening dependance on Google's prime offering of visibility.

Most folks loose accountable control at some point - which is a marketers delight so that he/she keeps control of their job or offering through "spin". Google is in the drivers seat.

[edited by: Whitey at 12:14 am (utc) on Jul 29, 2011]

12:11 am on July 29, 2011 (gmt 0)

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is it just me or is google slowly coping all the large websites there is on the market


That's the plan.

Google wants to be "the internet".

It started with Google Places. They co-opted company websites, review sites, and the Yellow pages with that.

Google did everything they told you the webmaster you could not -- because it was not legit -- based on internet stories:

1) Scraping content from Yelp to populate reviews.
2) Copied the Groupon concept
3) Artificially raised it's own properties in SEO results over natural results.

[edited by: frontpage at 12:14 am (utc) on Jul 29, 2011]

12:11 am on July 29, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Can I also point out that this is really lame content on hotels, not to mention the fact they have STOLEN the content for each hotel description. So this site should be pandalized immediately.

Wait hang on I forgot Google's mantra "Do as we say, not as we do"
12:16 am on July 29, 2011 (gmt 0)

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From 2010 --

"The New York Times op/ed a couple weeks ago went a bit far in suggesting the government should oversee Google’s algorithm, their main point of Google using their power to bolster their own offerings and squeeze out competitors is a very real concern."

[nytimes.com...]
12:20 am on July 29, 2011 (gmt 0)

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@frontpage - wishful thinking. If they started today, the case might be finished by 2015.

Google doesn't like affiliates, unless they offer something different and can pay accordingly. It owns the media real estate and principles can pay them to compete where they have the data. YELP and travel data are central players to this strategy. That's a lot of $$'s for them - multi billions. Expect their share price to leap again.
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