Technology

Google adds COVID-19 travel information to trip planning tools

Christian Fleetwood

Christian Fleetwood

Google is adding features that will allow users to plan vacations more confidently around coronavirus restrictions.

The new tools – which debuted in the United States and United Kingdom, in markets that have seen “more searches for places to go on vacation” – feature added pandemic-related information on destinations, flights, and hotels when researching and booking travel.

“When you search on Google for information like hotels, flights or things to do, you already see when there’s a COVID-19 travel advisory or restriction for your destination,”  Google’s vice president of product management and travel, Richard Holden, said in a blog post.

“And, we recently introduced driving alerts to notify you about COVID-19 checkpoints and restrictions along your route in Google Maps. As restrictions and advisories begin to lift, we’re adding information about travel resuming in a specific destination on Google Search.”

Holden said this will include seeing the percentage of open hotels with availability and flights operating at the city or county level based on Google Flights and Hotels data from the previous week.

When travellers in the US or UK visit google.com/travel and tap on a trip they’re planning, or search for hotels and things to do, they’ll now see trendlines for hotel and flight availability.

Links to additional local resources, including the number of COVID-19 cases, are provided as well.

In addition, Google is also adding the ability to find hotels and vacation rentals with refundable rates.

“The uncertainty of COVID-19 makes it hard to navigate travel decisions,” Holden said.

“We’ll continue to share the most relevant information so you can make informed decisions and travel safely when the time comes.”

The news comes as Google quietly introduced its own prioritised advertising business, launching into the tours and activities space – under its new “things to do” advertising unit – with attractions from the likes of Viator, GetYourGuide, and Tiqets.

According to Skift, the advertising box appears atop the Google search results page or screen higher than other paid ads and free search engine results, and features tours and suppliers listed in “initial search results for each”.

It also comes amid allegations, again reported by Skift, that the multinational American technology company is barring new advertising for non-payment of advertising bills by travel advertisers, among which are German startups GetYourGuide and Trivago, who have publicly called on Google to cease its bill collection efforts for first-quarter advertising services.

The two companies are among eight who are believed to be considering applying for German government relief payments that are geared towards keeping staff on payroll, with the group calling for Google to pause collection efforts for companies set to receive tax-payer funded assistance.

“Many businesses are now seeking government liquidity to remain solvent,” the German Startups Association said in a letter addressed to Google.

“Unless greater flexibility is exercised by Google, many of its advertising partners will be forced to use government loans to pay their debts. Badly-needed funding will flow into Google’s coffers on the backs of taxpayers in Germany and around the world.”


Featured image source: iStock/400tmax



SEE WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING

Leave a Reply

Hotels

Airbnb officially bans parties

The Airbnb party is officially gone! Now you’ll have to get pissed in a nearby park when you go on holiday.

Share

CommentComments

Hotels

TFE to bring Collection brand to Sydney

Complete with an infinity pool featuring sweeping city views, the new property is touted as a destination in itself, however, we can’t confirm that until we’re offered a free stay.

Share

CommentComments

Cruise

Avalon Waterways offers double Qantas Point incentive

Satisfy your point-junkie clients by scoring them four points per dollar spent on their next luxury river cruise.

Share

CommentComments

Aviation

Air New Zealand sets roll out date for long awaited bunk-beds in economy class

Praise the travel gods! Passengers will soon have the option to lay down in cattle class and we’re so excited we’ve decided to take our afternoon nap early.

Share

CommentComments

Aviation

Qantas proposes scrapping bonuses if it is “harmed”

Qantas has copped some bad press lately, but the silver lining is it’s a great excuse for Alan Joyce to get a nice makeover!

Share

CommentComments

Aviation

Boeing 737 MAX mid-air emergencies revealed in new investigation

Surprisingly the investigation came from the ABC and not from Air Crash Investigation, which kind of puts the show to shame a bit.

Share

CommentComments

Travel Agents

Western travel agents banned from booking Hajj pilgrimage

Those looking to complete Hajj will have to enter the Hajj lottery, which you are still astronomically more likely to win than the actual lottery.

Share

CommentComments

Wholesalers

Virtuoso uncovers key differences in how each generation travels

Meanwhile, Travel Weekly staff are conducting our own research to tap into the zoomer market by teaching the office dog TikTok dances. It’s not going well.

Share

CommentComments

Cruise

Royal Caribbean Group completes its comeback with all ships back at sea

To honour the milestone, all 63 ships in the group’s fleet sounded their horns at once, which most likely scared the sh*t out of nearby fishing boats and unsuspecting wales across the world.

Share

CommentComments

Travel Agents

Virgin teams up with Flight Centre for money-can’t-buy workshop

It’s the second time a Flight Centre partnership has come up this week and it’s only Tuesday! Skroo must be feeling extra convivial this week.

Share

CommentComments

Aviation

“It’s more like a bribe”: Unions slam Qantas’ $5,000 ‘thank you’ payment

Speaking of bribes, if anyone would like to bribe us with an all-expenses-paid trip to Japan we promise to give you a good review on TripAdvisor.

Share

CommentComments

Destinations

Solomon Islands to reduce mandatory quarantine

Good news for those looking to travel across the Pacific Islands! Not so good news for those who enjoy being confined to a hotel room for days on end.

Share

CommentComments