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Google Trips: Google’s first potentially breakthrough travel tool
The app automatically populates flight, hotel, rental car and restaurant reservations from Gmail and is available offline.
Google bought travel software company ITA in 2010 promising to bring travel searchers next-generation travel tools and experiences. Then Google CEO Eric Schmidt and Marissa Mayer said that the company wanted to create consumer travel products that “solve end user problems” and “look different” from existing tools.
That promise so far has gone mostly unfulfilled — perhaps until today. Google has introduced a new travel app called Google Trips. And from what I can see (without having used it) it appears to be a potential winner. It’s about planning and itinerary management vs reservations or travel booking.
Google characterizes Trips as a “personalized tour guide in your pocket.” It mashes up Google data and various capabilities. The app automatically populates flight, hotel, rental car and restaurant reservations from Gmail (like Google Now). Google also says that all the content — the “entire app” — is available offline.
The app also comes pre-populated with popular itineraries based on aggregated user-visitation data: “We’ve automatically assembled the most popular sights, attractions, and local gems into a full day’s tour — all based on historic visits by other travelers.” This is a potential threat to widely used travel apps such as TripAdvisor — though apparently not the booking aspect.
Any formal review of Google Trips will have to wait for actual usage of the app. However, based on the design, content and features, Google may have delivered its first truly differentiated travel tool for consumers.
Leisure travel spending in the US alone was worth well over $600 billion last year, according to the US Travel Association. Therefore, in addition to the potential value of new consumer experiences, there’s lots of travel marketing dollars that such an app might eventually attract.