Edinburgh, United Kingdom (PressExposure) March 23, 2011 -- Earlier this year came the launch of a new Google Maps feature which aggregates real-time hotel rates - courtesy of various booking sites such as Expedia.com and Hotels.com - and displays them alongside the hotel results. This addition to the listings, in which average price and availability are now available as well as customer reviews and location, has received mixed reviews from industry experts.
While some view the development as a hindrance to hotels through the pre-eminent positioning afforded to Online Travel Agency (OTAs) booking options, independent city centre hotel brand Mint Hotel.com [http://www.minthotel.com/] has not been phased by the latest addition to Google Maps. A spokesperson from the hotel company said:
"Although there is a risk of losing out to some of the listed OTAs, this does not have a huge impact on the hotel itself. In fact, for Mint Hotel, customers will always receive a better deal when dealing with the hotel directly."
The average price is situated next to a drop down menu within which users can access a list of various sites on which the particular hotel room can be booked, and at what price. The idea was initially introduced to online travel agencies such as Expedia, Travelocity, and Priceline, whose respective rates are now available in real-time alongside hotel results.
The next step is the inclusion of various Central Reservation Systems (CRS), and the appeal to bigger hotel brands to include their own room rates within the feature. While the addition to hotel searches will be a real benefit for those looking to find the best deal for their stay, industry commentators have warned that hoteliers would be wise to embrace the new feature to avoid being out-manoeuvred by OTAs already offering rates.
Currently, the majority of pricing options derive from OTAs, with official hotel sites listed below. However, the majority of the hotels themselves do not offer their own pricing, and run the risk of being overlooked by users. On the other hand, once rates are included direct from the hotel sites, this creates a further opportunity for those hotels to capture bookings which may have went through the OTAs previously. Award winning hoteliers Mint Hotel.com [http://www.minthotel.com/] are confident of the potential long term benefits of the listing, ensuring onlookers that:
"The benefits of being listed against OTAs such as Expedia - when that time comes - will far outweigh the current negatives associated with the current lack of room rates from the hotel site."
The format is based on the PPC model, with Google collecting a fee every time a user clicks the link of a particular booking site. As such, it is going to require an additional amount of PPC spend on the hotel's part for inclusion within the rate results. However, Google have stated that in the future they hope to only incur a fee when an action is made - i.e. if a room is booked rather than the current system which incurs a cost every time a price is clicked through.