The user-oriented feature updates will help Google maintain an edge over competitors in the online travel sector.
Additional COVID-related travel advisory and restriction information will be shown in Google search, the company announced Wednesday. In addition, Google is also rolling out a revamped Explore section for its travel planning site as well as road trip support for Maps on desktop.
More travel advisory and restriction information. When users search for flights, hotels or similar travel-related queries, Google will show travel restriction details (shown above) for their destination. This information can include whether visitors must provide their immunization records, proof of test results or whether they must quarantine once they arrive.
Users that are signed in to their Google account can track travel advisories by toggling the “receive an email if this guidance changes” switch. When they do, they’ll be alerted when restrictions are added, lifted or reduced. These notifications are specific to the destination country, but information for specific states is also available within the U.S.
These new features add to the travel trends and advisory notices Google rolled out in August 2020.
The redesigned Explore section. The company also announced a revamped Explore section within google.com/travel. Users will now see more destinations on the map, like national parks and smaller cities, and Google has added the ability to filter destinations by interests (outdoors, beaches, skiing, etc.). The “Travel Mode” filter at the top of the map can also be used to see only cities with airports. When users select a destination, travel advisories and restrictions are also shown as well.
Road trip support for Maps on desktop. Google Maps on desktop now supports road trip planning. After entering a starting location and destination, users can select from different types of places to stop at via the options at the top of the interface. This feature is already available on the Android and iOS versions of the Maps app.
Why we care. Google has made itself a key player in the online travel sector through feature developments and acquisitions dating back to 2010, when it acquired flight information software company ITA Software to create its flight search engine. With this latest announcement, the company continues to solidify itself as an all-in-one travel planning tool that can help users comparison shop for flights, plan road trips and stay informed about travel restrictions.
This is likely to keep users within Google’s ecosystem, which makes it more difficult for Google’s competitors in the travel industry. As is the case with many of these user-oriented updates, there may also be trickle-down effects for marketers as we must leverage the platforms that our audiences use (in this case, Google) to market to them.