Google Trips: What It Is & What It Means For The Industry

Laura English

Laura English

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google flights, google trips effect on travel industry

Admittedly, we realise it’s probably a little harsh talking about travel, given the state of things. Trust us, we’re pining for an overseas trip we weren’t even planning too. But, we thought Google Travel and all its little tabs were super interesting. Especially because this is yet another of Google’s categorised search engines. 

There was News, then Videos, then Maps, then Shopping, and it continues to get more and more impressive. But what do these new search engines and tabs mean for Google and for the companies in these industries? And more importantly, how can we take advantage?

What is Google Travel?

Google Travel isn’t new at all. It launched as Google Trips, a Google travel app, back in 2016. It was canned in 2019 in favour of Google Travel, a website with all the same functionalities, kind of. Of course, Google has continued optimising all of these features and now it’s this really useful and… kinda hectic tool. 

It takes the concept of Cheapest Flights or Skyscanner and flips it. It makes planning a trip really, really easy and basically has its own travel hub. It even pulls information from your Gmail account to show your past trips.

Google Flights

Google Flights lets you search for flights like any other flight search engine. Except, you can enter flexible dates or search for the cheapest flights around — if the end location isn’t sooo important. 

It lets you track flight prices too or graph them up to work out what a good price for your trip might be.

Google Hotels & Holiday Rentals

Just like your Trip Advisors and the like, you can search for accommodation as well. 

Things to Do

Then you can organise what you’ll do on your trip. You can sort it by area, by interest, read articles on your destination, and get suggestions for neighbouring cities you might want to visit.

Google Trips

Google Trips ties it all together. You can save the dates of your travel, the flight schedule, your accommodation, and where you’ll eat. It’ll even offer you weather averages for your destination. 

How can we optimise for it?

The (kind of) simplest solution to most Google woes — just pay for it. Just like Google Ads and Google Shopping, you can pay to appear in Google Flights. Annnd, just like Google’s other platforms, you can optimise for it organically. 

Shane Pollard from Be Media reckons you just have to get technical with it. 

“I suggest getting as much schema markup on your web pages as possible to help define what flights and travel pages you have to contribute to make Google show you over your competitors,” he says.

“It’s not a well-documented Google feature to optimise for. I would rather give them enough information to show everything they can about my web page instead of giving them very little.

“This helps me show up in the Flights tab most of the time,” said Pollard. 

Kan Huang from Social Wave agrees you just have to play Google’s game.

“I always believe that it’s best to play with Google rather than against it. Just like Local SEO and Google My Business Listings, I encourage suppliers or businesses to get themselves listed on their new features to maximise visibility. 

“You can expect Google to push harder into these new tabs because their intent is to improve the search experience before anything else,” she said. 

How does it work for Google?

Well, while Google definitely seems like some kind utopia where everyone just roams around muttering about User Experience and algorithms, it’s a business. And there’s one key thing that businesses care for: money. 

That’s not to say that Google’s little travel pack of products aren’t impressive, they are. But, for Google, the difference in revenue for displaying an ad from a bidder, and taking a slice of a booking fee when it comes through their tools is significant. 

So, while we know that Google loves creating a solid User Experience and Google Flights and Trips definitely achieves that, the reason for it probably is to convert Google from an advertising platform to a referral-based platform. 

How does this affect the travel industry?

Obviously, it’s going to affect the travel industry in a few ways. First up, flight companies themselves will probably have more trouble ranking, given that they’re losing so much traffic to Google Flights. Then, there’s websites like Expedia, Skyscanner, etc. Google Flights has basically beaten them at their own game which isn’t… ideal for them.

In an article last year, the Australian Financial Review found that Google owned 95 per cent of the travel search market. That’s a seriously massive chunk, and holding that much weight in the market gives travel companies two options: pay to play. As in, pay Google to be included in those top spots. Or, choose a different marketing platform. 

The problem is that Google is the marketing platform to reach people who know what they want. Google is where you want to be if you have a product people know they need. Social media is the place to be if you have a product you know people want or maybe need — but they aren’t searching for it. 

While we might scroll through Instagram and see a piece of clothing or a pair of shoes and be swayed to buy it, can you do that with travel? 

Well, some travel companies are trying. 

Sydney’s QT Hotel has gone off with influencer marketing on the backend Sydney’s lockdown. They shouted notable journalist and influencer, Froomes a hotel after she was made redundant. 

While trip.com shouted another notable beauty blogger and influencer a night at Sydney’s Sofitel.

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