If you’ve been searching for hotels on Google recently you might have noticed that a Google Hotels Search widget is taking pride of place above the organic search results, immediately below the AdWords top slot. Needless to say this seems to strike right at the heart of hotel booking web sites such as Lastminute.com, LateRooms and the recently acquired Kayak.com.
Google has been testing and playing around with its Hotel Search product for quite some time, and we’ve seen it appearing sporadically, but this marks the first real global roll-out, which does tend to suggest it’s not just a test but rather a change, and rather a dramatic one.
If you search for a city + hotels term such as [edinburgh hotels], [bangkok hotels] or [hotels in vancouver] you’ll see Google’s ‘Hotel Finder’ widget very prominently displayed, taking up what would have been the first organic search result. In all likelihood this will have a pretty severe impact on the sites that did hold that coveted first position, reducing their organic traffic. You’ll see the widget in the screenshot below.
Whether this change will stick and whether users will actually use Google’s tool remains to be seen, but it’s a clear declaration of intent.
Google’s Hotel advertising model has been in development for some time and intriguing partnerships have developed, such as the one with Pegasus and its Open Hospitality application, which allows participating hotels to automatically have their pricing information and ads displayed.
Another day, another major Google development!