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July 27, 2021

Google travel industry initiatives meet Covid-19 realities

By GlobalData Technology

In July, Google introduced a number of tools designed to help the travel industry leverage customer insights derived from search data. Unfortunately, the new tools are being introduced just as the industry faces the possibility of a slowdown in demand due to yet another spike in Covid-19 cases.

Google introduced its ‘Travel Insights’ analytics for the US market in partnership with trade group Destinations International and the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International (HSMAI). They have been tested in the APAC region since last December.

Specifically, Google is introducing two tools: The first, ‘Destination Insights,’ gives travel businesses, governments, and tourism boards better insights into the top sources of search activity per destination. This in turn should help make marketing campaigns more effective. The second tool, ‘Hotel Insights,’ enables hotel and resort owners to identify where demand is coming from in order to better target their online/digital presence.

Based on preliminary feedback, Google has added a number of features to its Destination Insights tool, including:

  • ‘Focusing Facts,’ which enables quick answers to basic queries such as “Fastest growing destination globally,” “Country with the most inbound interest,” and “Top city in demand.” Focusing Facts are based on the previous 84 days of Google search data.
  • A demand sizing tool that enables users to compare inbound and outbound interest between one primary country and up to ten comparison countries.

Google intends to enhance these new offerings with training materials customized specifically for destination organizations and hospitality marketing professionals.

Timing could be better for Google

Since piloting these tools last year, Google reports it has worked with local tourism officials in a number of countries, including Singapore and Indonesia, to inform marketing decisions related to border re-openings. Google also has launched localized versions of Travel Insights in Spain, Greece, France, Italy, Croatia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Unfortunately, the new US introduction is arriving at a uniquely bad time as Covid-19 cases are clearly on the rise. On July 23, the Centers for Disease Control reported 64,000 new cases, up from below 10,000 one month earlier. Travel inside the US has largely returned to normal this summer, but a continued spike and the inability to achieve anything approaching herd immunity are likely to stymie Google’s travel initiatives in the short term.

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