Google, in the last few years, has transformed from a search engine to an all-powerful online travel advisor. By bringing in a flurry of new and hyper-personalized metasearch platforms like Google Travel and Google Flights, it is changing the world of online travel planning. Read on to find out how.
- Most travelers start their planning by making a few quick Google Searches.
- Over the years, Google has improved its search features and functionalities to include direct booking and comparisons.
- OTAs and other service providers have to pump up their SEO and SEM strategies to stay on top of things.
From ordering food to planning a trip, almost everything we do today is online. When you start planning a trip (even before you finalize the destination), the first thing you do is to go online and ‘Google’ about the place. Once you have narrowed down a few locations, you move to flights, hotels, things to do, and of course, scour through as many YouTube videos by travel vloggers as you can.
How many of you open a travel book or consult with a travel advisor these days? Well, not many. And frankly, you don’t need to. Because Google, the world’s most popular Search Engine, is everything you need in a travel guru!
Over the years, Google has become the biggest name in the Dotcom era to an extent where people rarely use the actual phrase, ‘to search online’ and almost always say, ‘Google it.’ The one thing the platform does better than anyone else is providing relevant answers to ALL your queries in the quickest time possible.
What Does Google Mean for the Travel Industry?
While hundreds and thousands of Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) provide services via websites and Social Media channels, Google’s entry in this segment is the biggest game-changer for the travel industry, impacting several players – hotels, airlines, buses, restaurants, entertainment services, etc.
Its feature upgrades and new releases provide users exactly the information they are looking for and allow them to book flights and hotels in just a few taps. In short, Google is the next big travel revolutionist.
With this paradigm shift, there is an increasing need for hospitality professionals who understand the nuances of Google ads and retargeting campaigns. At Avlon Shiksha Niketan, one of the leading Hospitality Management Institutes in Kolkata, we have developed highly industry-centric courses in aviation, hospitality, and tourism management to impart the aspirants with the necessary skills that make them job-ready in the truest sense of the term by the time they finish their course.
So, in this blog today, we, at Avlon Shiksha Niketan, a well-known tourism and aviation college in Kolkata, will be shedding light on why Google is emerging as the unerring choice for travel recommendations even though there are multiple other channels like airline websites, OTAs, hotel booking platforms like Expedia, Airbnb, etc., in the mix. Read on.
The Story of Google’s Evolution from ‘Just a Search Engine’ to the Ultimate Travel Helpdesk
If you are an internet person (which you probably are because you are reading this blog online), you must have noticed how Google has enhanced its search features over the years. A decade back, a typical travel-related search on Google showed pages of SEO content from websites. However, things have changed ever since. Now, relevant ads and metasearch results (website links that come with a short description) are on top of every search return, pushing organic results further down. It results from many new search features, revised SEO algorithms, and changes in customer behavior.
To meet the demands of this changing digital scenario, companies need digitally skilled professionals now more than ever. And we, at Avlon Shiksha Niketan, one of the leading tourism, hospitality, and aviation colleges in Kolkata, are right here to ease of the path to kick start your career by providing you with insights, skills, and hands-on know-how of the latest industry trends.
2010 through 2021 – The Wave of Feature-Rich Changes
Google is a pioneer when it comes to adopting new technology to upgrade existing services or products. And here are the landmark events of this decade:
- Google Flights – The first big change for Google as a travel concierge happened in 2010 when it acquired a tourism data company called ITA for 700 million USD. This formed the first of Google’s many travel metasearch platforms, Google Flights.
- Hotel Finder – Following its raging success in air travel bookings, Google released the beta program for its Hotel Finder feature in 2011. Now Google Maps (an insanely useful Google service) shows not only the location but also hotel rates.
- Google Travel – In 2014, Google licensed a California-based start-up, Rooms 77, to create Google Travel. This licensing allowed Google to access the start-up’s hotel comparison and booking metasearch function and make it a global success via its search engine.
- Property Promotion Ads – To allow hotels to drive more profit, Google introduced Property Promotion ads via Google AdWords. This feature allows hotels to bid and book ad slots to drive more traffic and overcome demand slumps.
- Travel Planners – Why stop at flights and hotels when you can offer customers a more holistic travel experience? In its newest metasearch platform, Google allows you to plan an entire vacation, complete with places to explore and must-do activities all from one dashboard.
- COVID-19 Travel Advisories – Technology is anything that makes your life simpler. Google knows this very well. To accommodate travel changes due to the ongoing pandemic, Google has introduced its latest travel feature where users can search for all COVID-related travel advisories for a location. So, instead of visiting multiple websites to collect relevant information, this feature brings everything under one place. Isn’t this the answer to all your prayers?
As Google continues to add new features, it is really all about how well OTAs and other service providers who use the Search Engine for promotions adapt to these changes. What was enough, even a few years back (traditional SEO with spammy keywords) is not going to make the cut it in this era.
Today, it is not only important to have good quality content on a website, but it is also mandatory to have a strong presence on Google Business listings and run effective display and remarketing ads. As such, if you are a part of the travel and tourism industry in any way, it is of utmost importance for you to upskill and reskill yourself with the necessary technical know-how. Sign up for our industry-relevant courses at Avlon Shiksha Niketan, a renowned tourism and aviation college in Kolkata, and gain an in-depth knowledge of all the skills you need to function in the industry.