Background: The New Google Metasearch Engine
Google has been constantly putting out tools for the convenience of the public over the past couple of decades. They’ve put forward stuff that has made our life a lot easier, and they’re continuing to do so with their efforts into the travelling niche.
We’ve already said that Google plans to make our lives much easier. But, when we say ‘all’, we don’t mean everyone out there. As a matter of fact, Google Metasearch is putting OTAs (Online Travel Agencies) out of business through their new system. They’ve completely revolutionized the industry and may have entirely opted out the need of OTAs in 2019. Are you trying to figure out how Google has put a billion dollar industry out of business? This article is aimed to answer this exact question. Keep on reading, and by the end of this article, you’ll know exactly what you’re dealing with and how it’s changing the OTA industry as we speak.
Basically, it’s already pretty apparent that literally everyone planning a cross-country, and even an inter-city trip does use Google to do some prior research. So, the company eventually figured out, why not give them all the options they need right on our search engine? The idea is so simple yet so brilliant that it makes you wonder exactly why someone didn’t think of it before.
The Changes to Metasearch Algorithm
If you’re not familiar with the concept of metasearch, let us explain. A metasearch is the searches one search engine makes on some third party website to display information. It’s that simple. Metasearch isn’t anything new, it’s been around for quite some time. Metasearches are the reason why we see the results of a basketball game if we just search last night’s game. Google goes on to ESPN, B/R or some other reliable vendor, extracts the information from their site and display the data on their search engine.
While it’s being used in many different industries over the world, one industry that always lacked the used of metasearches, or basically, didn’t use it to its maximum efficiency, is travelling. However, a couple of months ago, Google changed this and now hotels and other aspects of travelling are being incorporated into the SERP (Search Engine Results Page) through extensive metasearches. But, how exactly is this affecting the world of hotels and why do we say that it could put OTAs out of business? Allow us to elaborate everything new about hotel SERPs because of the Google metasearch algorithm.
First of all, if you are still wondering where to get the Google Metasearch, go on www.google.com and search for “hotels in London”. Scroll down and you will see a widget in the first page with 4 hotels with a map and different prices. Genius right?
The Brand New Results Page
Before we get into what’s new, let’s first talk about the old interface. Well, the past UI was nothing special. It was exactly the same as searching for any regular shop or service provider. You’d get the name, contact information, review and a couple of pictures. This is all helpful stuff, but it’s not nearly enough. You’d have to go on the company’s site and browse through it for further details. However, now there’s no need for that because Google Metasearch has changed literally everything.
If you go and take a look at the current interface, it’s a lot different. Keep in mind though, the new system is still in beta, so there might be a few up and downs here and there. But, all things considered, the system is pretty impeccable considering the fact that it’s in beta stage.
So, when you’re searching for a hotel, you obviously get all the old information. You’ll get a phone number, closing/opening times, customer reviews, images, etc. But along with all of this, you’ll be getting a ton of extra features too. We’ll list them out one by one.
- Pricing: Are you looking for cheap hotels, but don’t want to go surfing each site to see how much a room costs? Well, no worries, because Google has got you covered. The price tracing tool (which has to be enabled through the settings), can give you the cheapest and the most expensive rooms the hotel provides. The reason why this is such a convenient tool is that you don’t have to manually filter through the data of each site and write down how much each hotel room costs. You can simply view the prices of each hotel in a given region conveniently on an alphabetical list.
- Discounts: Looking for promos and other sweet deals to take a few bucks off of the receipt? Google can manage that as well. Just beneath the pricing tab, you’ll have a small line stating whether or not the hotel is providing a special discount to its customers at the moment. This line will also include exactly how much percentage of a discount you could avail from that specific vendor. How cool is that?
- Tons of Reviews: Yes, we already talked about this. But, the thing is that do to Google’s new algorithm, there’s a lot less number of ‘fake’ reviews on Maps. Basically, Google keeps track of all the places you’re visiting. If you visited a hotel today, there’s a good chance that you’ll get a notification on your phone asking you to review that certain hotel. This is an amazing initiative by Google to really validate the reviews on their site. Yes, there are still fake reviews out there, but the ratio of fake and real reviews is much better now than it was a couple of years back. Plus, another great factor is that Google Metasearch now prioritizes reviews from sites like Booking.com, Trip Advisor and Hotels.com. If there’s a review from a credible OTA, Google will push it to the top of the review list.
- Personalized Results: You might think that Google tracking your every move is an invasion of privacy, but in many ways, it makes your life easier. If you’re a frequent traveller, you should make sure that your Google account is logged in while you are making reservations online. The reason behind us suggesting this is that Google keeps track of what hotels you’re booking rooms in and also stores data regarding some of the facilities provided by them. Afterwards, when you’re once again looking for a room, Google Metasearch will remember your preferences and recommend hotels according to your liking. This algorithm greatly reduces the number of minutes you’ll need to spend in order to find a good hotel room. If you think that Google’s filter isn’t working for you, just log out of your account and you will be displayed the generic list everyone else sees. It’s that simple.
- Highlights: Is a hotel well known for its amazing room service? Well, Google will make sure that it gives credit where it is due. Below the name of the Hotel under the ‘Highlights’ tab, you’ll get a few graphical icons representing the best aspects of a certain hotel. These icons aren’t just randomly generated but are based on keywords read from customer reviews. So, if there’s something mentioned in the highlights, the hotel will not fail to provide.
- Room Availability: Google isn’t just replacing OTAs, it’s doing things now that OTA has ever thought of doing before. Basically, the way travel agencies display rooms by sorting them based on a price range. However, this doesn’t do the rooms justice and there’s a lot of stuff lost in translation. In order to counteract this problem, Google Metasearch displays every single available room (filtered based on dates), and display the basic details along with the price. How much more convenience could you possibly need?
- Various Filters: Looking for a very specific set of requirements in your hotel? Google can help you conveniently filter out all the unnecessary results in just one tab. Once you search hotels near ABC location, you’ll be redirected to a list of the available hotels in that region. However, right above the list are a bunch of different filters. These include things like top choices (based on your previous reservations), high ratings, budget-options, etc.
This may be a good time to get on the train and see what you can do to appear on the metasearch of Google before anyone else. I believe this is a channel currently under-used and is bringing quite a lot of potential for hotels at the moment.
These options are just so amazing that they’re maximizing user convenience and allowing us to book rooms on the go in just a couple of minutes. Now, whether or not Google’s new system will kill the OTA industry is still a big question mark. It does have the potential to replace OTAs, but we’re still sceptical if they’ll get replaced entirely. All the answer you’ll find on the internet as of right now are purely opinions. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens.