Hotel hunters, say goodbye to Google Maps, Google Places and, well, Google Search! The world’s most powerful search engine recently debuted Google Hotel Finder
, featuring a simple user interface and hotel listings easy to search. In this review, we’ll use Hawaii hotels as our main search region.
Going the design route Google is known for, Hotel Finder search interface is clean and simple. A useful amount of information is presented upon your first search: map with customizable search area (probably the funnest feature), user ratings (pulled from Google and third party review sites like TripAdvisor
), comparison to past years’ prices (by percentage), photos of Hawaii
hotels, a shortlist to bookmark your favorites, and of course, the ability to book hotels!
Let’s take a closer look at Google Hotel Finder
Customizable search area
In essence, the Hotel Finder’s “Shapes” feature is reminiscent of “Circles” in Google+: You get to choose exactly where you want to be. The downside? If you don’t know where to look for hotels on Oahu (you won’t find many in Pearl City…), you might be clicking and dragging these shapes aimlessly. However, Google includes a “Highlight popular areas” feature, so you can see where most tourists go to rest their heads on vacation. You can add, reshape, and remove as many shapes as you want! We’re not sure whether there’s a limit to how regionally broad you can search, but we weren’t able to pull up any hotels in Santa Cruz, California along with hotels in Waikiki.
When you click to view hotel reviews, the initial reviews you see are from Google users. Below, links to third party review sites are avaiable, including TripAdvisor ratings, Travelpod, Yahoo! Travel, and Hotels.com. It’s a pretty extensive reach and you can easily find yourself browsing through hundreds and hundreds of reviews. The “5 Star” ratings system seems to only pull from Google’s reviews. After all, what if an external site used a different style of rating? The 5 stars system is pretty universal, but it’s doubtful Google would want to reference every other review site out there to come up with a rating for Google Hotel Finder.
Comparison to past years’ prices
This feature doesn’t work for every hotel, but over the years Google will have a larger database to rely on for this information. It seems like a useful tool if you want to find hotels that have more affordable prices since last year.
Hotel photos and slideshow
These photos give shoppers an inside look at almost every hotel. Some hotels don’t have any photos to show for themselves, is there a way for hotels to easily submit photos? Or does Google curate all of these images? If you click on a photo, you get a slideshow with arrows to navigate to the next image.
Google allows booking through outside vendors. When you click “Book”, you are presented with a variety of about 4 options from online booking agents such as Expedia, Booking.com, Priceline, and even the hotel’s official booking website. Google makes it easy to compare prices all in one place.
The shortlist is an easy way to bookmark your favorites. Immediately after clicking “+Add to shortlist”, a hotel listing jumps to the top of the page and is filed under a section called, what else? Shortlist!
What do you think?
Do you prefer Kayak? Bing? Is Google’s usability more or less intuitive?