Google Travel: what it is, how it works and how to use it for business

Google Travel is Google’s travel platform. Whether you are a traveler who is seeking information for your trip, the head of an airline, or a host interested in being found better on the web, you cannot be unfamiliar with this tool and what it can do for you.

As a user, you will have the option to use this travel search engine to build your own itinerary very easily, find the best prices for transfers and accommodation, and also places of interest to see on your trip. It’s really simple and intuitive.

If you are a housing establishment, a holiday home host or a tour operator, Google Travel Essential is going to be indispensable for you to be found by your potential customers and you can also easily monitor your position within your competitions.

what is google travel

In this article you will find useful tips for using the Google algorithm dedicated to Travel and in particular you will learn:

  • what is Google Travel and how does it work
  • how to use the Google Travel platform for your business
  • tips to be visible in Google Travel.

Your presence on Google Travel is just one of the many opportunities to make yourself more visible on the internet and to sell your services. Find out what other ways you can do it by attending a dedicated course on online sales techniques, or the Digital Sales course of Digital Coach where you will discover all the most innovative sales techniques.

What is Google Travel and why it is useful

Google Travel is the evolution of the old Google Trips platform. Launched in 2016, Google Trips was used to easily organize trips and itineraries on mobile phones and manage bookings via Gmail. In 2019, it got closed to make way for Google Travel, available on both mobile and desktop versions.

With Travel G, Big G aims to become the favorite travel agency of millions of users, with a complete, simple and effective user experience. Similarly, it wants to be the point of reference for all commercial activities that work in tourism and that find it a complete and direct tool, competing with all the other tourism portals.

In fact, as shown in the figure below, when you search for a destination or a hotel in the Google search bar, in the resulting SERP, immediately below the Sponsored Ads of Google Ads, a box appears first with the links of the main booking channels and immediately below the Google Travel box. Therefore, before all the other organic results.

serp results for ads

In this way, the search engine giant highlights its travel tool to the detriment of all other operators, travel portals and hotels, becoming, in fact, the main tool on which to convey user choices, immediately after the sponsorships.

Keep up with me, now I’ll tell you what are the main features of this tool and how it is used by users. This will help you understand what a powerful tool it can become for you if you work in tourism and if you want to increase visibility and sales of your tourism-related business.

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How Google Travel works

Google Travel offers tons of interesting features.

When you open Google Travel, the first screen, that is the homepage, is the “Travel” section of the portal, with the search window in the center for setting up your trip. The navigation menu is on the left and as you can see, it is immediately intended for the user who wants to plan and choose his trip.

The left menu bar remains accessible from every internal page of the portal. In the main navigation menu, you will find six sections, which I am going to explain to you in detail.

google travelling home

Trips

In the “Travel” section, a central search bar appears from which you can start any search: a destination, a hotel, a flight or any query of your choice. The search algorithm will respond to your query by opening a SERP in the section of the Travel navigation menu that is closest to what you are looking for.

If you type in any destination, the search engine will take you to the “Things to do” section, where it will show you the points of greatest interest and activities to do in the destination you typed. In this section, when you type your query, the trending destinations of the moment, and also personalized travel destinations based on your previous searches.

Explore

The “Explore” tab allows you to immediately choose the destination. Google Travel helps in giving you destination suggestions starting from your current location and shows you previews of these suggested destinations where you already find the price and duration of the flight and the price of the accommodation.

explore with google travel

You can immediately apply a series of filters to your search:

  • stopovers (how many do you want to do)
  • travel arrangements (only flights or others)
  • interests (outdoors, popular, beaches, museums, history, skiing, etc.)
  • airline names
  • type of baggage
  • journey duration.

Things to do

The menu also provides you a section where you can direct your search to the activity you wish to do rather than on a specific destination and to the interest you have in planning your trip. Once you type the activity you are looking for, Google offers you a SERP with places where you can find or carry out those activities. It will start from your current location, moving to the places where you are most likely to find that activity, always as close to your current location as possible.

The resulting SERP contains all the classic tools:

  • news related to the activity/interest you typed
  • the “People also asked” section
  • the map around you with what you are looking for
  • organic results
  • related searches in the form of locations.

In this section, Google wants to compete with portals such as Tripadvisor regarding reviews. Indeed, as search results, you will find the opening hours of the attractions but also the evaluations of the visitors who have been there before you. You can also find the suggested itineraries for the various lengths of stay. itineraries that are conveyed by the previous tool Google Local Guides and which represent an added value for those who are planning a holiday of a few days.

Flights

If you click on the “Flights” section of Google Travel, you will find the classic flight search menu with round trip fields, departure and return dates, and places of destination. But even here, the tool suggests windows with the most requested destinations where a flight proposal already appears with return dates and prices. Once you have chosen the flight, Google Travel allows you to monitor the price if you don’t want to buy it right away and also shows you if the price found is average and what the price trend of that flight has been in the last 60 days.

In this section, you will find the flights made available by the various airlines, and a table with the dates that crosses the return prices highlighting the cheapest ones.

google travel date graph

You will also find the “Price chart” which helps you know the price trend you are looking for in the last period.

google travel price graph

The filters that this section offers you are always related to the number of stopovers, airlines, times, baggage, and duration. If you want to book your flight, you can click on the “Select” button and you will immediately be redirected to the airline’s website.

With this kind of presentation, Google clearly covers all the flight comparison websites that were points of reference for the user, such as Skyscanner, Edreams, Volagratis, etc.

Hotels

By clicking on the “Hotel” section, Google Travel directs you to a page with fields for choosing a destination, departure and arrival dates, but also a series of images with the most popular destinations. Once the destination has been clicked, the map of the location also appears with all the accommodations and prices positioned on the map. Once you click on accommodation, you will see all the information on Google My Business of the hotel, photos, reviews, etc, and a list of options for booking that specific accommodation: paid ads first, then all the others. For a hotel, it is therefore essential to be present in the Travel SERP in order to be seen and reached by your potential customers and to increase your bookings.

The filters available in this section are:

  • user ratings above 4 stars
  • price
  • offers
  • hotel category
  • offered services
  • brand.

Google Travel also offers you other useful information, such as which public transport to use to get there, what are the interesting activities in the area and the airports nearby.

Holiday homes

In a separate section, you will find “Holiday homes“. This allows you, in the same way as you searched for hotels, to look for apartments, as you would on dedicated portals such as Airbnb. The information on the apartments is identical to that seen for the hotels but there are much fewer options on which to go to make the reservation (the offer of portals for the apartments is very limited compared to the hotels). It is also possible to choose holiday homes based on user ratings.

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How to use Google Travel for business

If you are a company working in tourism, Google Travel can be a very powerful digital marketing tool for your business as it provides you easy, intuitive and integrated features to get more visibility. It also allows you to keep track of many parameters, useful for creating high-performance communication plans.

Thanks to Travel, Big G has the aim of becoming the first web platform to promote the tourism business. From small hostels to travel agencies, to hotels of various categories, with this digital marketing tool, you are going achieve great performance and visibility.

In this section, I will show you what are the main requirements to be on Google Travel and how to get the maximum benefits from this search algorithm.

Necessary requirements

The first requirement you should have is a properly configured list on Google My Business. This means a flow with complete data, images, prices and availability of your facility, all updated constantly and accurately. And don’t forget to ask customers Google reviews of your company and respond to comments.

The second requirement is that you are present on any of Google’s partner platforms, including Trivago, Tripadvisor, etc. and that you have a booking engine, which is the software that allows you to book the room directly on your website for Bed and Breakfast or any other housing facility. Also very important is a tracking system suitable for detecting user actions in the Booking Engine. The correct setup of these elements is essential: you must verify the possibility of correctly generating the data feed and the compatibility between all the systems involved (Booking Engine and Channel Manager of the hotel). By connecting your property’s Booking Engine to Google Travel, you will be able to offer your rate by circumventing the intermediation of other sites that act as agglomerates.

If you meet these criteria, then you will automatically be on Google Travel, with the page about your structure and you will be able to fully leverage all its features.

Main features

With this search engine dedicated to tourism, your company can respond exactly to the needs of your customers. You can give your potential consumers the following information:

  • tourist events
  • special offers for hostels and hotels
  • airline tickets for domestic and international travel
  • direct contact with travel agencies
  • possibility to pay the hotelier directly without intermediation

google travel traveler

The Google Travel sections “Hotels” and “Holiday Homes” are real offer comparators. The algorithm extrapolates data from Maps, from the Google My Business company page of hotels, B&Bs, apartments or campsites, from travel agencies and aggregators with which it works.

As for you, what you need to do is detail and carefully select all the aspects of your accommodation that will be visible online. In fact, the information and description of the services, photos, prices and ratings about your business will all flow into the hugely reachable Google Travel tool.

Through Google Travel, interested users can book your facility from the portal on which it is present, or directly on the website of your hotel or apartment. It is therefore essential that you connect your site and the Booking Engine that deals with your business to Travel, to drive bookings in the right direction.

The Travel platform is not just an excellent promotion and booking tool but also a platform for monitoring the results of competitors and the market. In fact, you can observe your main competitors and their pricing policies but also understand what are the attractions that drive travelers to choose a specific geographical area rather than another. All of this will help you build a proper content marketing plan that brings online users to your website.

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Tips to be visible on Google Travel

How can you get more visibility on Google Travel? Sponsored advertising is the best form of digital advertising, especially for a platform that is always part of the Google family. The Google tool to manage Ads in Travel is called Google Hotel Ads. Thanks to this, you can launch search campaigns and ad campaigns to better position your My Business profile within Travel.

To make the most of the Hotel Ads tool, you need to choose the right advertising strategy Search Engine Marketing (SEM) for your business so that you are always among the top positions of the SERP ads and can offer customers exactly what they are looking for.

An accommodation facility cannot operate alone on Hotel Ads, it also needs a Connectivity Partner. Typically, the Connectivity Partner is your booking engine, which offers this service and interfaces you directly with its proprietary platform so as to create immediacy of prices and availability in real-time.

google travel hotel

To get activated on Google Hotel Ads, you have to sign up with a Google Hotel Center account after verifying some requirements and you will be fully operational with the full functionality of the platform.

The main pricing models on Google Hotel Ads are:

  • PPC – Pay Per Click – campaigns with costs based on the number of clicks through auctions, setting a maximum cost limit
  • PPS – Pay Per Stay – campaigns with costs based on performance, where the hotel eliminates the risks associated with conversion.

These models allow you to decide whether to allocate a pre-set budget to your investment, or whether to pay it with a percentage of the turnover coming from the reservations made at the time of check-out. In fact, the second model, the PPS, allows you to have only variable costs and to pay a “commission” on the sale. For your business, you have to select the best pricing model.

There are other promotional forms that accommodations can use in Google Travel. Within the section relating to your hotel, you will appear exclusively through the purchase of specific sponsorship campaigns. These will allow you to structure a Trivago-style price comparison in which all the sales channels in which your rooms are present appear with the price for the requested nights and the relationship with the prices of the others.

You can buy a price exclusive for your hotel and it will appear as the only bookable alternative on the page. By clicking on your hotel from the list of establishments in the area, the user will land in the “Sponsored” section, while normally he will land in the “Overview” section.

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Conclusions and strategic advice

I’ll summarize the main advantages of Google Travel, whether you are a user who wants to organize a trip or a company that works in tourism.

If you are an aspiring traveler, on the platform, you will have everything you need to search for useful information about the destination you want to go to, including the best activities and points of interest, neighborhoods, itineraries and weather, all accompanied by reviews from travelers who have already been there. You can search for the best way to travel to your destination, monitoring the price of flights by activating specific notifications and then finding a direct connection to the airline for booking and purchase. And you can find various types of accommodation, from hotels to holiday homes and here too you can monitor prices and manage bookings and purchases simply and directly through an efficient and effective purchase process.

If you are an airline or an accommodation facility, you need to know that Google Travel bypasses the intermediaries linking the rate on your site to the Booking Engine (so you have to have one). In this way you will no longer need other sites or landing pages to promote your structure because you can do it directly on Google Travel, a web agency will not be necessary but instead you will need the collaboration of a Connectivity Partner. You can also advertise your hotel via the PPS model with exclusively variable costs, thus eliminating any risk of canceled bookings. What do you need to do now to make the most of the Google travel search engine?

  1. Create and/or keep the Google My Business page of your business up-to-date, enriching it with all the information and pictures; take good care of the appearance of your customer reviews.
  2. Take advantage of the great opportunities of Ads campaigns for Google Travel and if you haven’t activated this type of campaign yet, ask your Booking Engine supplier for activation and channel management costs.
  3. Evaluate the best sponsored campaign pricing model on Google Ads for your business.

Now that you know how Google Travel works, start using it! And if you want to know other ways to increase the visibility and sales of your online business, contact one of our experts!

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