Google's Hotel Finder is the newest search tool for travelers to help them search for hotels that can meet their travel needs and budget. While the service is still in its experimental stage, it already has grabbed the attention of many within the travel industry. Intrigued, I decided to check it out for myself to see what all the buzz was about.
Scope of the Google Hotel Finder
The Google Hotel Finder is not a hotel booking website. It’s a new search tool to help travelers look for hotels within a particular city by typing in the city’s name or the zip code. Currently, the scope of the search tool is only within the United States. Of course, the new search tool aims to provide information of different hotels worldwide in the near future.
Travelers can narrow their search by setting the price range and limiting the hotels shown based on their star ratings. They can also limit the search area by adjusting the parallelogram border to focus on a popular area highlighted on the map. You can also adjust the zoom of the map as you would do with Google Maps.
What’s Good about Google Hotel Finder?
Unlike hotel booking websites that have so many promos ads to certain destinations, the main page of Google Hotel Finder is very clean, streamline and straightforward. Of course, one has to take into consideration the fact that the new search tool is still on its experimental stage so it might still change in the future. Nevertheless, it is still a very much welcome change.
Another good thing about the Google Hotel Finder is that you don’t have to move from one page to another to view detailed information about a hotel. By clicking the box with the basic hotel information, you can find more details like reviews about the hotel, pictures, contact information and how the hotel price fares with hotels with the same star rating. This makes it easier to find available hotel rooms with the best hotel rates.
Limitations of the Google Hotel Finder
I have come across a number of limitations while trying out the Google Hotel Finder. Perhaps the most obvious is how can look for hotels using this new search tool. Google Hotel Finder only allows you to search for hotels by typing in the name of the city or the zip code. It cannot search for hotels using a landmark or a street address. Travelers often look for hotels based on a landmark (e.g. a tourist attraction or convention center). This can make using this new search tool more tedious than looking for hotels, especially if the traveler is looking for a hotel in a big city.
I was baffled by the inability of the Google Hotel Finder to look for hotels using a landmark or a street address since this is something that you can do on Google Maps and Google.com. The fact that such feature is available on other search tools offered by the same company can leave anyone scratching their heads in bewilderment.
Another limitation in this new search tool is the functionality of the adjustable parallelogram. Apart from narrowing down the search results by only including information of hotels within it, there’s nothing extra special about this. If the map provided on Google Hotel Finder had more information, it would have been more helpful. Adding multiple parallelograms on the map to limit your search is a good idea, but will only be helpful if traveler is familiar already with the city.
This brings me to the third limitation I found. While the map does highlight the most popular areas in a city by making it appear lighter than the rest of the map, it doesn’t explain why. Again, information about landmarks within these areas would have made this new search tool more user-friendly, especially for travelers visiting the city for the first time.
Google’s Hotel Finder may be a promising search tool for travelers looking for the cheapest hotel rates. However, the limitations of this new search tool and the fact that travelers can use Google Maps and other search tools already offered by the company to get better results don’t really justify the need for a separate hotel search tool.