In 2011, Google debuted their Hotel Finder search feature. When users typed something like “hotels in Boston” in the search bar, Google returned a carousel of options in addition to organic results. The carousel featured paid results in a horizontal bar at the top of the page.
Because most users scan the page vertically, the format was relatively unsuccessful and the feature was not widely adopted. In November 2014, Google replaced the carousel with a 3-pack of listings found above the organic results.
The 3-pack is a vertical format that catches users’ attention more than the horizontal carousel and includes filters to refine searches. Users can narrow their searches by price, other Google users’ reviews and hotel class. Hotel class uses third party sources to rate hotels on a 5-star scale. As of April, users can also narrow their searches by Zagat rated properties using the “More” drop down menu in the filters tab.
This is likely the first of many filters Google will add as it continues to develop the Hotel search feature. These filters place Google in direct competition with other metasearch travel sites such as Kayak, Travelocity, and Expedia. Google’s Hotel Finder is a serious threat to these sites because its results are placed directly in the listings page, streamlining the process to click through to the hotel’s website.
As Google’s Hotel Finder continues to develop, the feature becomes more powerful and more widely used. It will be no surprise if Google’s Hotel Finder function soon experiences more volume than other metasearch sites.
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