google hotel1
7 years ago
 

Google secretly tests feed of hotel room prices in natural search results

Google recently made the travel industry sit up and listen with the map hotel pricing “experiment” – but in a far stealthier move it is looking at turning the screw further.

The addition of room prices against search results for hotels on Google Maps triggered the inevitable rounds of soul-searching and claims of we-did-it-first, while the most telling remarks concerned when the search giant might do the same in organic search results.

Now it appears such a move is being tested quietly on a few users.

On Google Canada this week a search for “hotels” threw up and wholly unexpected set of results.

google hotel1

A search for the same keyword delivered a different – yet still intriguing – set of results.

google hotel2

These two searches were conducted on a Google Chrome browser from a Canadian IP. When the user attempted to recreate the same results by opening a new tab the results returned were of the standard organic variety.

This looks like typical A/B testing.

Despite the top left-hand navigation looking different and the inclusion of a location widget underneath the search bar, it is the inclusion of room prices included in the results that is arguably the most interesting.

There is no date setting widget included on the page, such as that incorporated into the Google Maps hotel test, so prices are probably taken from average room rates for a particular hotel – once again, presumably, from advertisers in AdSense.

Initially, Google remarked that the screen grabs were from Google Shopping – a service which includes prices but is obtained by filtering results AFTER an initial search is been carried out.

These results may well be from Google Shopping but were returned after a single search query from the Google homepage. The user had no predetermined search preferences, but perhaps in this case Google decided that for a term which has plenty of price points available it should throw up something different, including options for more shopping.

An official at the Googleplex in Mountain View, California, says:

“At Google, we run anywhere from 50 to 200 experiments at any given time on Google sites all over the world.”

Google also pointed to a blog post about how it tests various projects around the Google ecosystem.

So, just a test, nothing to see, please move along…

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Kevin May

About the Writer :: Kevin May

Kevin May was a co-founder and member of the editorial team from September 2009 to June 2017.

 

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  1. What Google AdWords Match Type is This? & Can You Opt Out of Such Tests? ~ PPC Blog

    […] even worse when you consider Google’s recent big move into the travel market, and past nibbles into the hotel […]

     
  2. Weekly Search & Social News: 04/13/2010 | Search Engine Journal

    […] Google secretly tests feed of hotel room prices in natural search results – speaking of universal, there were some interesting additions to the hotel space noted last week. Something we may see in other local and ecommerce query spaces. […]

     
  3. Google Secretly Tests Feed of Hotel Room Prices | SEO Summary

    […] Google recently made the travel industry sit up and listen with the map hotel pricing “experiment” – but in a far stealthier move it is looking at turning the screw further. The addition of room prices against search results for hotels on Google Maps triggered the inevitable rounds of soul-searching and claims of we-did-it-first, while the most telling remarks concerned when the search giant might do the same in organic search results. https://www.tnooz.com/2010/04/02/news/google-secretly-tests-feed-of-hotel-room-prices-in-natural-sear… […]

     
  4. Google 会帮你在目标网站用你的关键字搜索,直接给你搜索结果页面? | 谷奥——探寻谷歌的奥秘

    […] 还是看上图说话吧,上图是tnooz blog的博主在Google搜索hotels后得到的搜索结果页面,注意Booking.com的搜索结果,其中列出了三家酒店的名称和价格,还可展开看11条更多的结果。但问题是,这个搜索结果的链接指向的是booking.com首页,在它的首页完全没有这些酒店的名字和价格,你必须进入booking.com,在它的搜索框里输入hotels,才能得到Google搜索结果页面里的这些结果。 […]

     
  5. Google Showing Shopping Results Without Explicit Search Intent?

    […] tnooz blog reported that after searching for [hotels] off the Google home page, he was shown hotel room prices directly […]

     
  6. Rex Dixon

    Nicely documented A/B Testing!

     
  7. Riko van Santen

    It would be interesting how accurate the rates get.. Hotel chains now actively ensure the competitive BAR (Best Available Rates) reach their guests, so far as to procure rate checking tools to monitor any disparity or competitive disadvantages. Google could make these rate comparison tools obsolete?

     
  8. Google US adds travel to homepage with Kayak, TripIt, Concierge, National Geographic | Tnooz

    […] Google is testing City Tours, Google Maps with hotel search and pricing, and hotel pricing in organic search results. […]

     
  9. Yannis Anastasakis

    One of the most comprehensive articles I have seen on the subject. Well done. I would be very interested to see where google is going with this, as this doesn’t look like the usual consumer behavioural analysis they tend to do.
    I can’t imagine them getting it right all the time, and hoteliers are likely to be rather unhappy with not-so-accurate price indications, just like consumers. In fact, this reminds me of the next gen seamless battle of the CRSs…
    The future is interesting 🙂

     
    • Kevin May

      Kevin May

      @yannis – interesting point you make about not-so-accurate prices.

      One of our Nodes asks whether non-date specific price comparison (using average room rates) is *good enough* in order to make a decision between other hotels.

       
  10. Opportunities for the travel sector online

    […] you. And it’s now evident that this search strategy is unlikely to be confined to maps, as this article discusses a controlled test rollout in Canada, incorporating this into the main  organic search […]

     
  11. The Week in Travel Tech - March 28 to April 3 2010 | Tnooz

    […] Google secretly tests feed of hotel room prices in natural search results […]

     
  12. Elliott Ng

    Big news Kevin. I thought it was interesting that they highlight “this site aggregates prices from multiple stores.” Is this a more general e-commerce feature that is somehow automatically applied to travel websites by accident? I suspect this is not a travel specific feature because of the terminology

     
    • Kevin May

      Kevin May

      @elliott – indeed, big news.

      i’m with you on this one, not necessarily a travel-specific feature, but moreover a way of automatically feeding in “shopping” results into organic search.

      either way, it’s a major move.

       
  13. uberVU - social comments

    Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by kevinlukemay: Quite a biggie – Google secretly tests feed of hotel room prices in natural search results [GRABS] http://bit.ly/afIX1f [Tnooz]…

     
  14. Tweets that mention Google secretly tests feed of hotel room prices in natural search results | Tnooz -- Topsy.com

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Chris Clarkson, Kevin May and Tnooz HQ, Social Mapping. Social Mapping said: Google secretly tests feed of hotel room prices in natural search results http://ff.im/-iwVks […]

     
 
 

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