Search giant Google has taken a purposeful step into the travel market with the launch of its new app Trips, a tool designed to make holidays easier for tourists. Available for both Android and Apple mobile devices, it makes the most of past user behaviour and local data to organise travel itineraries and to recommend places to visit. Not only is this development likely to be positive for holidaymakers, but it could also offer significant opportunities for hotel owners and anyone running attractions in popular resorts.
What is Google Trips? When someone downloads Trips (free of charge), the app takes the reservation details for their forthcoming break from their Gmail account and then uses this information to create day trips to be used while the person is there. It will check which attractions are open, factor in travel time to various points and even calculate how long past users typically spent at attractions in order to come up with full days’ worth of things to do.
In addition, the app uses data from the user’s mobile device to work out what they might enjoy doing and to suggest relevant activities – and if the weather isn’t likely to be suitable or there are delays on major travel routes, the app will configure different results.There are categories built in for many of the world’s major cities – for example, London has literary, historic and wartime-themed activities – so almost everyone should find they are catered for. People can also swap out parts of their itinerary if Google makes a slight error and puts in something the user doesn’t like.”This is purely an organic product. We want to focus first on building a good user experience,” said Google’s Richard Holden. It could be hugely popular with tourists who aren’t necessarily used to planning their own breaks, since a Good Think study found that 74 per cent of travellers get stressed about figuring out the ins and outs of their trips, including transportation.
Another plus point is that Trips will store holidaymakers’ flight, hotel, car rental and other travel information in one place, replacing the traditional documents wallet that people would have to carry around. This and the itineraries can be viewed offline, meaning there will be no need to worry about any lack of internet access of steep data roaming charges. Any drawbacks to Google Trips? One potential disadvantage of Google Trips is that the app pulls its data purely from Gmail and doesn’t take into account other email providers such as Outlook.
As a result, people who don’t use it as their default account won’t have much personalised information available that the app can use to suggest suitable things to do. Another drawback is the fact that because Trips pulls its recommendations from Google Local reviews, places that have only recently opened won’t have built up enough of a reputation to be listed yet, meaning travellers might miss out on a great restaurant or museum simply because it is new. Finally, there is currently no facility to book activities, hotels or restaurants from within the app – although that may of course change given time for the app to bed in. Implications for hotels and other businesses Google Trips presents a fascinating opportunity for businesses to get noticed, so it may be a good idea to tweak that hotel online marketing strategy in order to accommodate it and perhaps achieve extra bookings as a result. The app uses Google Local heavily, meaning it is vital to ensure business details listed on there are relevant and completely up to date. Failing to do this might result in your business getting missed by the app, or even aggravating tourists by giving them the wrong information and ruining their itinerary.
Another essential thing for hotel marketers is to gather plenty of positive reviews and publish them on their website. This is because most of the attractions, hotels, restaurants and cafes turning up in the Trips app have at least 40 reviews and a rating of four or more. If your hotel has excellent testimonials from past guests, don’t waste them – get them out there and allow Google to find them. For anyone struggling with boosting rankings in local search results, the search engine has published a helpful new guide that talks about relevance, distance and prominence that is well worth a read and can be found on its website or blog. Many travel insiders have been anticipating an industry app from Google and the result is finally here. Its useful functions look like they will be hugely welcome among travellers and could save them a significant amount of time in researching trips. For hotel owners, Trips could also help them to get seen in crowded cities when people haven’t yet organised their accommodation.