Google is now rolling out changes to its hotel search on first mobile and then desktop platforms as part of a broader, year-long realignment of its travel strategy, challenging but possibly not fazing the OTAs.

The early design changes in hotel comparison shopping were tweaks for mobile users. Throughout November, the company has rolled out a new front-end experience in five countries; highlights of these and broader changes at Google Hotels over the past several months include:

  • instant booking used not only by OTAs and global chains but now also by independent hotels and small chains, using distribution software for hotel integrations, Peakwork
  • a “room finder” with a carousel of images of specific room types at any significant property
  • Hotel Ads, which display rates and drive users to online booking engines now being ported into Google AdWords
  • the integration of loyalty offers into booking rates, ie cheaper rates showing if you click and join a loyalty scheme
  • Booking.com’s Genius rates in showing in Google’s metasearch results
  • mobile rates getting flagged with special messages
  • Google striving to look more like an OTA by rewriting its “hotel front-end technology stack” to speed up  response time and become reactive to consumer behavior, eg nightly rates presented in calendar view
  • redesigned interface for seeing customer reviews, but without integrating TripAdvisor

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