Travel with Google Flight Search and Hotel Finder

Last week, we talked about Google Wallet and how it might affect mobile payment behaviours in the next few months/years. Today, I want to talk about services from Google that might change the way you plan your next trip.
Within the last three months, Google has released two new services related to the travel industry:
Google Flight Search and Google Hotel Finder:

Google Flight Search

Google Flight Search

In April 2011, Google purchased ITA Software, a company that provides flight data to leaders in the travel industry and flight websites such as Kayak and Orbitz.
This purchase deal was approved by the US Department of Justice (once certain conditions were set to preserve fair competition) and Google launched the Google Flight Search on shortly after on September 13, 2011.
When you search for flights on Google’s search engine, you will see the usual options in blue as indicated in the search results:

Old Google Flight Search

Old Google Flight Search

However, you can now search for flights on Google Flight for Search by clicking on the link in the left sidebar, or by searching directly on that website. Doing so will navigate you to this page:

New Google Flight Search

New Google Flight Search

You can filter the results by variety of filters – connections, airlines, time of arrival and departure, price and duration. In particular, the calendar feature is really nicely done: it lets you see different prices at other departure or arrival dates in one glance. Another cool feature is that you can choose a departure airport, duration and price limit, and Google will find destinations based on your individual specifications. Google Flight Search can virtually plan your next vacation by choosing its destination for you.
See a demo of the features in this video:

Google Flight Search is faster and simpler than other websites such as Kayak, but results are not as complete. The smaller range of data available is why Google Flight Search loading speed is better than some websites.

Google Hotel Finder

You can also find hotels easily on Google via the Google Hotel Finder tool. You can search hotel by cities, and filter results by date, price and class of the hotel. One of the search features allows you to draw a shape on a map in which you want your hotel to be located.
Google Hotel Finder - Sidebar
Once you have filled your search criteria you can see a preview of the hotel with photos, reviews, descriptions and even book your trip from there. One neat feature is that Google lets you know the average prices charged by hotels throughout the year so you know if you are getting a good deal or not. Also, if you are not sure whether you want to book a specific hotel or not, you can add it to your shortlist and come back to it later:

Google Hotel Finder preview

Click to enlarge

Once you are ready to book, you can choose to go either via the hotel or through a third party website. The choices for third party websites are driven by Google Ads so it is another way for Google to make money off of online transactions.
Google Hotel Finder - Book Now
With these two services, Google is definitely trying to enter a new market and widen its array of services. Google is no longer just a search engine. What do you think about Google’s expansion?

Have you tried these two services? Will you give it a try? What features do you think are the most useful? What would you like to see improved?

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