Feature 1: Now you can search for, compare and book hotels directly via Google, with the search engine’s newly launched Hotel Finder experiment. It’s a nifty map-based tool, with some interesting location, social and deals related filters.
1. You can filter results based on user ratings (posted by Google Maps users).
2. You can filter results based on price, with the added option of listing hotels whose current price is in between its typical price and a 50 percent discount price. This feature digs up hotels that are currently offering huge discounts (as in daily deals).
3. You can use the “edit shape” and “add shape” options to customize the search area and limit your results to a specific region on the map.
Another feature allows you to add a hotel you like to your “shortlist” and continue searching, so that you have all your best choices to look at afterward.
The booking part is probably what is going to get the most attention, though. Google is offering direct links to online travel agents (OTAs) and supplier sites with a “Book” button, and that doesn’t leave much room for anyone else to get in between the customer and the OTA or supplier.
What is Google Hotel Finder? Google.com
Feature 2: The U.S. Travel Association got a rude shock this week when it saw the Corporation for Travel Promotion (CTP) put up for “elimination” via online voting on the U.S. House of Representatives Majority Leader’s Youcut website. Listed proposals on this site are voted on every week, and the one with the most votes is then included in House legislation for elimination.
The USTA quickly put out an action alert, asking people to call the Majority Leader and tell him not to eliminate the CTP. The whole kerfuffle got sorted out fairly quickly since the CTP didn’t get the top votes this week, and USTA says it now has assurances that it won’t be listed again.
Here’s the rest of the week’s interesting news:
“Social Essentials” white paper to quantify social media impressions - comScore
Cornell student project differentiates between real and fake hotel reviews – Cornell.edu
Restaurants research customers online to find their tastes and preferences – SMH, AU
Hilton launches iAd with “Stay Hilton, Go Everywhere” campaign – Hilton.com
Zillow founder launches new mobile discovery app Trover - TechFlash
United Airlines app turns iOS devices into mobile boarding passes – ZDNet
Photo – Google Hotel Finder snapshot