Google in travel – slowly but surely

TD Editor


I start every trip with a Google search of the basic information about the place or country I’m going to. Then, I search for flights and hotels as well as activities reading rating and reviews. When I arrive in my destination, I use Google Maps for directions to get around the city as it is equipped with info of which mode of transport, where to get off and the time it will take to get there.

There is no denying the relevance of Google in our travel preparations that is why the tech giant is slowly encroaching in the travel space by launching products bit by bit. Google started with Flights allowing travellers to search for flights that soon expanded to hotels and vacation rentals.

In September 2018, it also launched a trip planning tool that shows you when to best book your flights based on price changes. The tool is limited to a number of cities, but will surely support more places. The same page will also show you hotel deals. Once you have decided on a destination, Google’s new hotel location score can then help you find the neighbourhood that’s best for you.

In December last year, the tech giant has acquired Sigmoid Labs, a Bangalore-based start-up behind Where is my Train, an app that helps users track their trains across India offline without the need for GPS or internet connectivity. This immediately sparked a rumour that Google will expand its travel products with rail, others think it will be integrated into Google Maps. Nevertheless, it opens a lot of possibilities.


Most recently, I learned about Google’s “engagement rewards” at Digital Travel APAC. Henky Prihatna, Google’s country head of Next Billion Users – Indonesia, explained how the program will help companies to acquire and retain users as well as increase conversion and engagement. What I find interesting is when he said that Google will use a reward system like when “playing a particular game app until level 5 and get a food delivery for free or download the file and get a free ride.” Could this be the predecessor of a loyalty program?

Google is definitely taking careful strides in travel over the past few years. Google has tweaked its travel tools making it clear to us that it wants to enter the market. Google simply does not want to be another player in the industry – it wants to be a one-stop shop catering to every stage of the travel planning process. I compared Google to a crocodile or an anaconda in my previous article waiting for the kill.

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