Last week saw Google announcing new features to their Google Flights search engine that will help travellers by predicting flight times and delays before they actually happen. This week came another big announcement for travellers everywhere.
Last week’s ‘predictive flight delay’ feature was a useful (and great) new reason for travellers to start using the Google flights app more as part of their travel planning. A Smart move on Google’s behalf.
This week Google followed up with another announcement and more changes to their existing travel tools that will further help sneak them toward the top of the online travel planning food chain.
Google Flights has now introduced a nav bar at the top of their Google mobile phone interface that allows users to switch between looking at available flights, hotels and even activities for the date and destination they’ve selected.
Look and sound a bit like Kayak or Trip Advisor? Err, yep.
That’s because Google’s long-term plan is basically to cut out metasearch middlemen just like said sites in return for direct commissions from travel companies.
Google want to essentially make sure users are not shipped to a third party once they’re done confusing you with a gazillion pop-up windows. And in doing so, make the whole process quicker, easier and more enjoyable for travellers.
The new Google Flights app will also collect users historical and upcoming past travel plans from individuals Gmail accounts with new “Explore” and “My Trips” tabs to speed up the whole process and serve travellers more relevant content and sharper pricing than Online Travel Agencies (OTA’s such as Expedia etc).
“Planning a trip involves lots of searching for flights, hotels, things to do, itineraries and more. The process is often cumbersome because we have to use multiple tools to gather everything we need—especially on a mobile phone.
We’re evolving the way our hotel search works on smartphones to help users explore options and make decisions on their smallest screens. The new hotel search experience includes better price filtering, easier-to-find amenity information and the ability to book right from Google.”
Google has been quietly fine-tuning its travel business in recent years by applying its machine learning tech and mining its world-beating supply of data to create a much more intuitive platform.
What does all this mean for Travel Agents?
For Travel Agents, this is just another tool to add to customers’ increasing travel planning arsenal.
Which means their knowledge of destinations, availability and pricing will go up another notch. That’s a good thing.
Because as we all know, organising travel tends to be a whole lot more complex than just searching for a flight, hotel or tour – and pity the fool who thinks otherwise.
Our advice to agents would be – embrace it – customers have all of these tools already at their fingertips and this will actually save you time in quoting on irrelevant itins that won’t get booked anyway.
Your skill and opportunity are to filter their ideal plans for your customers and put together their dream trip with the insurance policy of YOU! Essentially travelling with them ‘just in case’ – albeit virtually.
What do you think about the latest Google Flight Upgrades?
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