Google Hotels: Price trackers, clever filters and more…
Google Flights, to put it lightly, revolutionized flight search. You can set price alerts for any number of itineraries, destinations and cities with the tap of a button, letting all the hard work of search come right into your inbox without lifting a finger.
It’s quite easily my favourite way to search for the best deals, and we’ve got quite a good primer on how to make the most of Google Flights. But that only took care of the shorter part of travel – the flights. What about hotels? Google Hotels is now bringing that same simplicity and brilliance to the other big part of travel. Here’s a look at what Google has rolled out in recent weeks…
Google Hotels Interface
Google Hotels now has its own sleek interface, at Google.com/hotels. When you enter, it looks just like flights, which I’d argue is a great thing. Why? Because you can learn about the cheapest months to stay, discover which destinations fit your budget and also see how good the prices you’re seeing for your dates are, compared to other dates. Oh, and you can now set hotel price trackers too.
One of the most underrated features of Google Flights was being able to search without a specific need or place in mind. Let’s say you have up to $150 per night, want a five star hotel, are dying to visit Asia and are willing to plan from there. You can do that with Google Hotels.
By entering “Asia” and setting a price filter, you can see every city in Asia with five star options in your price range. Same works for any region in the world, or none set at all. You could previously do similar with Google Flights by setting a max price, a starting point and leaving the destination field blank. I absolutely love seeing this feature for hotels now too.
This also works for destination research…
People often ask me when the best time of year to visit any given city is. Let’s take New York City, where I was born. I have my own advice, but Google Hotels can give you more statistical evidence, like how busy it is compared to peak travel times, when the lowest hotel prices are by month and the average weather on each day.
Want to see how prices on your dates compare to other months, or even days?
Timing is everything in travel. Stay New Years Eve, pay 10x, stay New years day pay 1/10th. Long story short, a day or two of flexibility can make all the difference and if you do have the ability to move a trip in one direction or another, it pays to shop around.
Google Hotels now shows how prices are for your dates, compared to standard prices for the month. It even tells you if dates a little to the left, or a little to the right are better. One feature that’s quite new and unique, is that it breaks the price “heat” index down by star category.
Basically you can see a cool “green” if prices are low and a “red” for ultra high, and you can see for each star. This helps to know whether it’s better to pay up, or look down if there’s particular value in one category or another.
The best deals often go to those who put the most effort into finding them, but Google Hotels really evens the playing field. You can search for hotels in a given destination once, and tap the “track prices” icon to get notified whenever prices move in one direction or another.
In just one day of searching, there were big moves with a variety of hotels, and if one of the deals happens to catch your fancy, you can then click to book it directly from the email Google popped into your inbox. It really doesn’t get any easier, and when you’re talking about potential savings in the $100 or $1000’s range, it’s certainly lucrative.
And there’s useful filters for power searching…
Pretty much everyone searching for a hotel has a budget in mind, and rather than making you click through pages of results, you can instantly customize yours on Google Hotels. That’s kinda handy. The dual price slider lets you set a minimum and maximum per night, but that’s just the beginning.
Is doing cannonballs in the pool a necessity? Or perhaps a morning sweat session in the gym? You can add all sorts of filters for every lifestyle from “kid friendly” to “free parking” with just one tap using the amenities tab. Anything to save time or keep you from useless results is a good thing.
One thing that’s pretty cool and happening much more frequently on Google Hotels is the ability to book directly from the interface, without having to click over to a third party. Lots of online travel agencies are now integrating their booking platforms, so that you can just enter your information on the same page, and Google sends it over.
We’ve seen this a lot with Google Flights, where you see things like “Book with Virgin Atlantic on Google” as a booking option, so from a user standpoint, it’s great to see this for hotels too. Even better, if you have a Gmail account, most of your information can be pre-populated which saves even more time. Options which can be booked directly on the platform tend to be highlighted, or at the bottom of the booking options.
It’s nice to see a shake up of boring hotel search
It’s great to see Google shaking up the hotel search game the way it has with flights. Online travel agencies have gotten away with clunky search and few good comparison options for too long, and with any hope, this will force others to compete. Happy searching…