It seems that Google is re-committing to travel search features. The search giant released an experimental hotel finder that gives advanced hotel search options for U.S. cities.
The Google Hotel Finder differentiates itself from competing tools with four key features:
- A visual map of the area that highlights the most popular tourist locations and allows you to specify which areas you plan on visiting. Hotels are then found based on proximity to your exact destination.
- A comparison tool that lets you compare the rates you’re getting to the historical average for the area.
- The comparison tool compiles rich, detailed information from Google Places, including reviews, images, and key information on the hotel. The tool is also designed to allow you to quickly “flip through” different hotel results.
- Google Hotel Finder has a “shortlist” feature that lets you save the results you like for easy organization and comparison in the future.
This tool is in many ways comparable to other travel search features, both from competing search engines (especially Bing, who has largely monopolized travel search features until recently) and more niche travel sites. The essentially unique feature to be aware of is the visual map.
Using the Hotel Finder for Local Advertising
If you’re trying to promote a hotel, then it should be obvious that this tool is good for you – but how can you take advantage of it? The simple answer is that optimizing for this experimental tool entails the same key components as optimizing for Google Places. By loading the hotel’s Places page with attractive images, soliciting reviews, and providing a full-fledged description on your Places page, you’ve already done much of the necessary work.
It’s also wise to explore the tool itself and see how the venue you’re pitching stacks up, especially when it comes to the “compared to typical” pricing tool. It’s also a great way to “R&R” (research and rip off) the tactics of competing hotels who have already optimized for Places.