Just two weeks after launching its revamped hotel platform, Google has expanded into alternative accommodations. Now mobile users have the option to book entire lodgings, the tech company announced Tuesday.
“Our goal is to provide the best possible search experience for users looking for a place to stay,” said Jennifer Rodstrom, a Google spokesperson, in an email to the press. “Increasingly, we see that users are interested in alternative accommodations when traveling.”
These new offerings, which Google refers to as vacation rentals, are geared toward travelers looking to slow down and settle into a new location. Rather than individual rooms, the rentals encompass whole units, such as apartments, cabins, villas, and houses. The search feature has begun globally for mobile and will extend to desktop within several months.
“In the hotel search experience, you can surface vacation rental properties — be it a cabin in Lake Tahoe or a beach house in Sydney — by applying the vacation rentals filter or clicking on the vacation rentals tip,” wrote Pratip Banerji, Google’s travel project manager, in a blog post announcing the news.
The tech giant has partnered with a handful of booking sites, including Expedia, HomeAway, Hotels.com, RedAwning, TripAdvisor, and VRBO, and is already offering rentals in destinations all over the world. Users traveling to Amsterdam, for instance, will see more than 1,700 listings from Hotels.com, VRBO, and Expedia, along with price per night, as well as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, and how many guests it sleeps.
“You can narrow your search with price and amenity filters, plus browse photos, read reviews, and see rates and availability of the vacation rental property,” Banerji explained.
Meanwhile, Airbnb appears absent from the list of booking partners, though that could change later on. This absence might be due to Airbnb’s variety of accommodation types, which includes individual rooms, something that does not fit with Google’s vacation rentals concept. Plus, the homesharing company frequently finds itself tangled up in lawsuits over illegal listings, although HomeAway likewise isn’t immune from such litigation. However, by focusing on entire homes instead of individual apartments or rooms within an apartment, the tech giant may be trying to skirt the issue entirely.
This is not the first time Google has offered vacation rentals through its hotel booking platform, though it is the first time it has been so widespread. The company initially piloted the idea in 2017, offering only a limited number of rentals in select markets.
The expansion is yet another step by Alphabet Inc., Google’s parent company, toward developing a one-stop shop for travel booking. Earlier this month, Google updated its hotel search site to make it more of a web destination in its own right. It includes comparison shopping, or metasearch, and some bookings on Google without having to leave the site.
“We hope this helps travelers make fast, effortless decisions — and with more choices on where to stay, your perfect vacation is just a few clicks away,” said Banerji, closing his announcement.
Photo Credit: Google announced it would be offering vacation rentals like this HomeAway lodging. HomeAway
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