Stretching your travel dollars lets you go further, stay longer or visit more places. Fortunately, the Internet makes it easy.
With so many sites like Expedia and Priceline, you can book your entire trip online and save money in the process. There's even a service called Kayak that compares all of the other sites for you at once.
These online travel agents have had the corner on the market for some time now, but that could be changing soon. Advisory firm Evercore reports Google could be making a game-changing move in the travel business.
Previously, Google didn't compete with the online travel sites because they're great advertisers. After all, most customers using Expedia, Priceline, Travelocity and other sites go through Google to get there. So, what changed?
More and more customers are turning to mobile apps to book vacations. They're still using services like Expedia, but they're not going through Google to get there.
“As mobile transactions threaten to make ‘marketplace’ experiences the first destination in travel search, such as those provided by the OTAs or TripAdvisor, we would argue that Google’s need to act has gone up by orders of magnitude.
Google's now trying to create an all-inclusive travel booking service within its site that will be easy to use and save you even more money than the competition.
Did you know you might save 30% on hotel bookings just by using Google Hotel Finder? That's because Google launched an experimental program this summer called Limited Offer, according to the Evercore report. The new program lets hotels partner with wholesalers to offer limited time steep discounts to fill vacant rooms.
Not all rooms on Google have this discount, but you might notice certain results on your search include a small yellow ad icon that includes a bright green discount. These discounts can undercut the prices that are available to the other sites, which gives Google a clear advantage.
Google's next step would use everything it knows about you to pinpoint the best price available to you specifically. It goes beyond finding the best price in general and finds a deal just for you.
It could still refer you to a service like Expedia if that's the lowest price. But it will also search through all of your loyalty programs and memberships to find deals straight from hotels as well.
The captive demand platform would integrate brands’ loyalty and rewards program information “into a logged-in Hotel Finder travel search experience,” Evercore says. Google would leverage properties such as Gmail, Google Maps, Google Wallet and Google Now “to integrate offers directly received, such as memberships and loyalty programs, into its logged-in travel search experience,” the report states.
This could be very disruptive for the other travel sites. Right now, most of the results on a Google Hotel Finder search refer you to Expedia, Hotels.com and the others. So, this new platform could take a lot of business away from those sites.
Are you up for saving money if it means letting Google handle your entire travel plan? Let me know what you think of this new scheme in the comments.