Google tests direct hotel booking

Google is testing out direct hotel booking feature on its Google.com/hotels site.  The company is seeking to have hotel seekers to find, book and pay via Google rather than handing off the lead to a third party travel site or hotel site.

It’s unknown if Google is using a 3rd party booking service or building its own.  The Google booking strategy is similar to the Instant Booking used by TripAdvisor. However, similar to TripAdvisor, Google faces similar challenges in getting hotels to participate in its booking tool.

After locating a hotel on Google, users are typically taken to a hotel site or online travel agency to complete a booking. This move is potentially controversial because turns Google into an online travel agency or its equivalent rather than simply being a marketing vehicle for hospitality companies. Google would apparently need to convince hotel chains and management companies to participate in the program, which may or may not be difficult depending on the model.

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Advantages include increased access to travel agents, a more efficient booking process and bundling options with other travel needs.

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