Tourists in a rural house in Multiva, near Pamplona, last week.Jesús Diges / EFE
Google took another step in its race to dominate the tourist market on the internet this Tuesday, and it did so months before the fever of the trips expected after mass vaccination of the population . Hoteliers can compete in the Google search engine face to face and for free with the largest online tour operators in the world, such as Expedia or Booking. Until now, Google only showed the prices of the big tourist agencies that paid ads; From this Tuesday, he will share those of all the accommodation owners who want to stand out on the web. The objective, according to the Palo Alto giant, is to stimulate the participation of hoteliers and agencies in the business.
Google Travel's new policy – that's what its travel reservation service is called – is part of its strategy to establish itself as a leader digital tourism sector and take positions in the face of the explosion in demand that is expected in the post-pandemic world. "When travel is really resumed, it will be essential that people can find the information they need and easily contact online travel agencies," the multinational said in a statement.
The initiative joins other projects of the recent months, such as notices about restrictions due to covid-19 in the establishments and destinations that the user is looking for or free cancellations due to the health emergency. A tool was also made available to companies to analyze Internet users' destination searches, so that the sector could prepare the ground for when activity resumes
From now on, when a tourist dives In the world's largest search engine in search of an accommodation to spend the holidays and find a hotel that you like, you will have the option of paying the hotelier directly to keep the room, and the hotelier will not have to pay Google for the transaction.
Until this week, however, the American search engine only gave the option of buying a room in hotels, hostels and other accommodation through the large tourist agencies, such as Booking , the most used in Spain. In this way, accommodation owners will be able to avoid the commissions that these platforms charge.
Tourists are increasingly booking more on the pages of the hotels against giants such as Booking
From Google they assure that the objective of these changes is to expand the offer of room sellers "by improving the search and price comparison experience", which in turn will mean greater price competition and will force adjust margins. Likewise, they assure that "it is not a temporary change", so that those who adapt their business to the multinational ecosystem will be able to continue advertising for free in the long term.
That Google offers free booking links does not mean that it intends to change its model of deal. Free ads will coexist with paid services such as Hotel Ads, with which operators organize targeted advertising campaigns. The company argues, in fact, that, for advertisers, free links “can expand the reach of current campaigns.”
Rubén Pérez, head of operations at Rusticae, a small rural accommodation rental portal, also points out that with this change Google will cut its income, since fewer platforms will pay to advertise if it is possible to do it for free. In this way, Pérez only understands the movement as a strategy of the technology giant to establish itself as the largest accommodation search engine in the world: “I understand that what Google is looking for is to absorb as much traffic as possible, so that people get used to using this platform ”.
On the other hand, the manager acknowledges that it will be very difficult for this change to benefit small hoteliers, such as rural houses or accommodation with little digital budget. "A hotel, unless it belongs to a large chain, does not have the technical capacity to take advantage of this change," says Pérez on the phone.
The head of Rusticae assures that, now more than ever, they recommend to the 300 rural accommodations with which they operate that they be digitized , since they foresee that in the short and medium term, due to the pandemic, tourists will think about it long before deciding by one or another hotel: "Now it is more important than ever to take care of the establishment's digital image because the customer will take more time when choosing."