If there’s one thing that we know about Google, it’s that they don’t stop creating new services very often. There’s always something in the works. So when we first heart about the Google Hotel Finder, we weren’t really surprised per se. Indeed, it makes sense for the search engine giant to start thinking more about travel and the way people search for travel. As you might imagine, travel is pretty big business.
What the Google Hotel Finder does is essentially let you research and book your hotel stay. It’s metasearch on steroids, in the same way that Kayak and Bing Travel are.
Some of the features that catch attention first is that all you have to do is enter the city or ZIP code and Google gets to work. There’s no need to hit search or even wander off to another page. The miracle of AJAX is that Google will simply do its magic and adjust your page automatically without anymore need for navigation. There is a list of hotels that spring up in the “popular” areas of the city.
There is also a map provided instantly of all of the hotels. It’s contained in a “shape” that you can manipulate.
Click any of the hotels in the hotel list, and another window will spring up immediately to give you a description, a link to the official website on file, photos, and even pieces of Google user reviews. There are also links to other review sites and of course, the infamous Book button. You didn’t think that Google was doing this completely for free, right? When you book through them, they’re going to collect a referral fee for leading you to what you’re looking for.
You can also “compare” rates and see how the rate presented is actually measuring against other hotels in the area. That keeps you from booking an overpriced room, or so the theory goes.
It’s a service that has some mixed reviews. Navigation could be a little better, and not all hotels will show rates automatically. It’s obvious that the service needs a little more work before people will drop Kayak or Bing Travel, but just the fact that Google is making the attempt means that we’re going to hear a lot more about the Google Hotel Finder in the months and even years to come.