Google Destinations brings holiday planning exclusively to mobile space
Wed 9 Mar 2016
Google has launched a search-based initiative today which is likely to worry some of the less powerfully-connected middle-people in the surging holiday travel market. Google Destinations, available exclusively on the mobile platform, will coalesce information from Google Flights and Hotel Search whenever you conclude a geographic search-term with the word ‘destination’, effectively producing search results formatted in the style of travel sites.
The functionality requires no special new interface, but the newly-formatted results do not appear in the desktop space, which seems a strange decision – if one likely to be welcomed by time-conscious managers whose productivity levels have already been affected by social media use.
The search results can be honed down by including facets of the holiday you’re after within the search term, such as ‘Colorado skiing’. Destinations features a range of sliders that let you parametrise your holiday research by refining the possible time period, by setting fare limits and even including multiple possible destinations. You can also hit an ‘Explore’ icon in order to investigate peak tourist times and likely annual weather conditions in the target area – information that Google is deriving, in part, from its user-reviews database.
Hitting the ‘Plan a trip’ link brings up rates for flights and hotels, with sliders that narrow down or expand the potential flights and hotel bookings drawn from what the Google posts describes as ‘trillions’ that it monitors each day.
One possible reason why Destinations has been implemented only for mobile phones is that this sector is where demand for the product has come from; Radhika Malpani, Engineering Director of Travel at Google says ‘last year, according to our internal data for google.com, we saw a whopping 50 percent increase in travel-related questions on mobile phones.’
The rise of online travel planning/booking entities such as TripAdvisor and SkyScanner led, by 2013, to what CNN reported as a decline in U.S. high street travel agents from 34,000 to 13,000 in just under twenty years. Destinations threatens to slim down the number of middlers yet further as the travel bug continues to take a larger slice of consumers’ recreational and entertainment budgets.
Incidentally, the destinations feature works perfectly well on unlikely recreational spots such as Iraq, Afghanistan and North Korea. Sadly it falters at ‘Mars’.