Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Google Opens 'Expedia Killer'



Google introduced Hotel Finder, which promises to help users find the perfect hotel. Hotel Finder utilizes Google Maps as well as a Google Reader-type interface to display hotels according to photo, class, user rating, rate, and "compared to typical," a useful metric that displays a percentage of how much more or less the rate is off the typical price from the past year.


Google calls Hotel Finder an "experimental" product, a disclaimer that excuses this tool from being perfect. For example, one feature of Hotel Finder is the "shortlist," which allows users to bookmark hotels they find interesting. Unfortunately, the shortlist only works for the current search and can not be saved for future hotel searches. (I'd love for the shortlist to become more like Foursquare's "To Do" list, thereby allowing you to save your shortlist in your Google profile.)


While Google has yet to venture into the business of booking your travel, look for that to change given Google's acquisition of ITA in July. In the meantime, should you wish to book a hotel via Hotel Finder, click on the blue "Book" button and you are given options to make your reservations via third-party sites like Travelocity and Expedia or on the hotel's own website. Click on "book" and you'll see the base price of the hotel as well as the price after taxes and fees for each third-party site.


Although it is a fun tool, Google's Hotel Finder is not quite ready to be the web's go-to site for hotel bookings. In fact, Hotel Finder is currently only available for U.S. hotel searches. But I look forward to seeing how Google will integrate Hotel Finder into its current suite of products, particularly as it rolls out ITA-integrated travel product and as Google + grows in popularity and usefulness.


by Melanie Renzulli - AOL Travel