Google recently announced the launch of their latest experimental product; Google Hotel Finder, a tool that claims to change the way you search for a hotel for your next vacation.
The Google Hotel Finder tool boasts of being different from the existing websites, like Kayak and Expedia because it contains some unique features which arent on these other sites. These features include (as outlined in Google’s official announcement):
- Figure out where to stay: Just provide a zip code of the city or even name of the neighbourhood you plan to visit and Google will flash a (four cornered) spotlight over a Google Map overlay, showing you a list of hotels(as blue dots) in the most popular areas in the city. Then you can narrow down your search on the basis of your dates, price, hotel class, and user rating, or you can also edit the shape of the spotlight on the Google Map to visually define the limits of your search and increase or decrease your hotel choices accordingly.
- Find a good deal: The list of hotels shown contains a “Compared to typical” column detailing how the hotel’s rate compares with its average rate over the past year so that you can decide if it’s a good value for you.
- Compare fast: One good thing about this tool is that you no longer need to open multiple browser tabs for each hotel result, and then go hunting around for pictures. Google Hotel Finder shows you a collage of images, Places reviews and key information about the hotel within the list generated. You can even use keyboard shortcuts (“J” and “K”) to flip through the results quickly, just like in the other Google features such as Google Reader and News.
- Managing your Results: With one browser tab per hotel not required any more, you can easily keep adding the hotels you flip through to a ‘shortlist’ to keep track of the ones that interest you
The success of Google Hotel Finder will depends on how well it fares when pitched against the established sites like Kayak, Bing Travel and Hipmunk. These sitesaggregate their deals not only from the hotel website directly but also from price comparison sites like Expedia and Priceline. However, Google Hotel Finder does give its users full control over their search results by letting them filter their results by a slider that ranges from “Any” (all prices) to “Typical” (no discount) to “50% less” (half off).
Kayak, Hipmunk and Bing Travel show results based on popularity, price, user reviews and ratings, but they don’t pick popular tourist sites like Hotel Finder does.
Though Hotel Finder is still in its experimental phase and search options are limited to a specified number of popular hotels in the United States, its minimalistic and clutter free look make it appealing and easy on the eyes. Other plus points include good photographs of the hotel (one feature other sites lack in) and the search tool conveniently directs users to the results without any pop ups or multiple tab hassle.
I think if Google can include more locations worldwide, it could be a real hit with users.
You can try Hotel Finder by visiting www.google.com/hotelfinder/