A senior Google executive insisted the search giant has no plans to become an online travel agent (OTA), but conceded he could “see why people think” it will.
Oliver Heckmann, Google head of engineering for shopping and travel, said: “We are not becoming an OTA, but I can see why people think the Book
on Google feature makes us an OTA.”
Book on Google for accommodation searches, launched in 2015, was developed because hotels find it “hard to get consumers [on mobile devices] to book”, said Heckmann.
“Conversion numbers on mobile were not as good as on desktop. For a consumer on mobile to transact they have to enter their name, details, maybe remember an account password. The chances are of not converting,” he said.
“It is much easier to convert on a Google page. So instead of sending a user to a page, you stay on Google. But it’s a completely optional feature.
“We are [still] connecting users to partner hotels.”