On Monday, Google announced that it is testing a new form of advertisement related to hotel prices on Google Maps. The way it works is that if you’re searching for hotels, you can enter in your stay dates and the prices will be displayed next to the results.
Click on the price, and you get a list of advertisers who have provided Google with pricing info for that particular hotel. In the example shown below, you can see the search results for hotels near New York, NY.
The price shown for the first result – Hotel Penn, is $129. Click on the price, and it gives you the option of clicking through to either Expedia or Priceline, both showing the same price.
Google made it clear in their announcement that this is being tested out as a new way of showing sponsored results, and will not affect or impact in any way how hotels are listed on Google maps.
Quote – “Google Maps ranks business listings based on their relevance to the search terms entered, along with geographic distance (where indicated) and other factors, regardless of whether there is an associated price.”
Also to be noted that this feature has been made available only to a small number of users, and Google is working with a limited number of advertisers. If the test is successful, then you can expect to see a wider rollout.
One thing for sure, though. This ends all speculation about whether and when Google is entering the travel vertical. It’s disguised as just one more form of advertisement, but if this hotel price display gets a full rollout, Google will in effect be competing for the same space currently occupied by some online travel companies – and Bing.