COVID-19: Google adds features to help consumers navigate travel uncertainty and confusion

COVID-19: Google adds features to help consumers navigate travel uncertainty and confusion

Google has released new features for consumers looking for information on travel as uncertainty and concerns continues to shroud the sector.

With quarantine rule and other COVID-19 constantly changing the search engine says it has seen a rise in people turning to it for advice.

UK travel intent remains high, says Google, with steep rises in queries about domestic beaches but there is widespread confusion over which destinations are on the UK quarantine list.

Google said this is impacting on consumers and travel firms and it is addressing this by providing up to date information to help people make informed decisions.

Key updates the search engine has made include:

  • Information about travel resuming in a specific destination on Google Search. Users now see the percentage of flights operating and open hotels with availability based on Google Flights and Hotels data from the previous week;
  • When users visit google.com/travel they will see trend lines for flights and hotel availability as well as links to additional local resources, including the number of COVID-19 cases, at the top of the page;
  • When users search for a hotel, or later this month a vacation rental, on google.com/travel they can use a filter to see only rooms or properties with free cancellation policies.

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In a blog Google vice president for travel product, Richard Holden, said: “As some countries around the world begin to reopen this summer, we’re seeing more searches for places to go on vacation.

“Because the impact of COVID-19 on destinations can vary, it’s important to stay up to date on the latest travel-related information for places you may want to visit.

“When you search on Google for information like hotels, flights or things to do, you already see when there’s a COVID-19 travel advisory or restriction for your destination.

“And, we recently introduced driving alerts to notify you about COVID-19 checkpoints and restrictions along your route in Google Maps.

“As restrictions and advisories begin to lift, we’re adding information about travel resuming in a specific destination on Google Search.

“In the next week, you’ll see the percentage of open hotels with availability and flights operating at the city or county level based on Google Flights and Hotels data from the previous week.

“When you visit google.com/travel and tap on a trip you’re planning, or search for hotels and things to do, you’ll now see trend lines for hotel and flight availability.

“Links to additional local resources, including the number of COVID-19 cases, are provided as well.

Due to the uncertainty around COVID-19, people often want flexibility when making travel plans.

“Many hotels and vacation rentals now offer free cancellation to give travellers more confidence when planning trips.

“Search for a hotel, and later this month a vacation rental, on google.com/travel and filter to see only rooms or properties with free cancellation policies. Tap on a specific listing to see more details.

“The uncertainty of COVID-19 makes it hard to navigate travel decisions. We’ll continue to share the most relevant information so travellers can make informed decisions and travel safely when the time comes.”

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