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Experiment to Freak Out Expedia and

By - March 23, 2010

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Today Google Labs posted news that it was playing around with showing hotel prices on Google Maps. From the post:

Google Maps is often one of the first stops travelers make to find and compare hotels. Today we started experimenting with a new feature, visible to a small portion of users, to help make that process even easier by showing specific prices for selected hotel listings.

With this feature, when you search for hotels on Google Maps you’ll be able to enter the dates you plan to stay and see real prices on selected listings.

I can imagine any number of reasons why Google might be “experimenting” with this. As anyone who uses Google knows, hotel listing spam – well OK, not spam, but arbitrage and gaming – is pretty out of control in the main Google listings. Going direct to the hotels and brokers themselves to get pricing data cuts out all that organic result spam, and could create a better experience for Google searchers. Of course, if not done right, it could freak out one of Google’s largest category of AdWords advertisers, the travel industry.

I wonder how they are feeling today upon hearing this news? I have some emails out to find out.

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8 thoughts on “Experiment to Freak Out Expedia and

  1. Kevin May says:

    Hi John,

    It’s a very interesting move by Google – dare I say it a “game-changer”.

    Our analysis (sorry for the blatant link to our story):

    What we are hearing is that the pressure may not be so much on the OTAs or aggregators but metasearch engines, as Google is effectively metasearching products from PPC ads.

  2. I can see that hotels would take very kindly to Google removing the arbitrage market and how people searching for a hotel would welcome it too.
    Possibly better than the market – the Expedia share price –… I’m sure the downward movement is purely coincidental!

  3. From a point of view of a person who’s been planing his May short-term vacation I would like to have such feature available on Google Maps to save some $$$ – no doubts about it. But from Expedia’s point of view I can imagine what “excitement” they may experience reading this Google blog post 😉

  4. Rich A says:

    Remember the good old days when Google tried to direct you to another website as fast as possible? Now everything they release is intended to keep you on longer. I guess I can’t hate on this, from a user prospective this one actually seems helpful.

  5. Search engines always have the prerogative of changing how they index the Web. SEO theory teaches us that optimization can come from any of the three parts of the searchable Web ecosystem: Searchers can change their queries, Publishers can change their content (including links), and Indexers can change the way they index the Web.

    This is a normal part of the process.

  6. For now I see Google taking care to do the experiment with the OTA. It seems obvious to me that going directly to the hotels official site would be better, but too menacing for now.

  7. Ian says:

    Its an interesting experiment. Google will need to have a full blown Booking Engine to do the proper job. Taking its prices from website pages is not structured and can be processed into a quotation that includes latest specials, family and group rates, seasonal pricing and tax.

    Google knows this, so what is its next move. They might do well to acquire a travel shopping system like our own AXSES See more about the Next generation shopping at

  8. As someone who was looking for accomodation in a fairly rural area, only yesterday, this feature would have been GOLD.

    BUT, they would still need to choose which of the etc websites to go with, as I noticed that of the 4-5 I tried, it only yeilded say 3-4 accomodation options in the area, but across all the websites they weren’t the same hotels.