As if traditional travel agents and tour operators didn’t have enough to worry about, along comes ‘Destinations on Google’. The search engine colossus has decided that the market is now ready for a mobile-only travel search engine and duly launched one earlier this month (March 8th). In our view it represents further evidence of how much technology is transforming the travel industry and how quickly those involved in it must now run, if only to stand still. One of those now running very hard is Tui but as they are now the worst performer on the FTSE 250, it shows they need to run harder still.
Destinations on Google allows users to search and book a holiday from their mobile. This probably sounds like purgatory for some, but a blessing in disguise for others. Users can see travel dates, popular locations, prices, weather and more for a specific destination without having to navigate through multiple websites. The idea is that they can then book and, if necessary, pay for the holiday from their phone. Naturally, Google then allows the would-be holiday maker to use all the other Google services including Google Maps.
After searching on a particular destination, the new service allows users to filter the search by interests, dates and price. Each of the destination options also includes a short description of the location, travel dates and pricing for both available flights and hotels.
This new feature is in response to the increase in travel-related questions that Google has received via search queries on mobile over the past year. The company says that phones now account for 49% of their Flights queries and 61% of their destination queries.
And various studies have shown that travellers visit up to 38 sites when planning a trip, So we can see how Destinations on Google will help cut down the time spent researching enormously.
The company suggests that its “Plan A Trip” function is where its ‘breadth of data really shines’. (Call us pedantic but can breadth of data really shine? We guess it does at Google!) Here, ‘an algorithm calculates your total trip cost, adjusting the amount instantly as you toggle through calendar options. It also adjusts flight options seamlessly, presenting three or four optimal itineraries up top and the rest sorted by price. And it sorts hotel choices based on your star preferences, showing you only what’s bookable for your desired travel dates’.
Clearly, it won’t tell you what outfits to pack but it can only be a matter of time.