The New Kid in Google Town: Google Now

If you have a list of travel business competitors that you monitor, I bet you probably didn’t include Google in it as well. The online giant converted into much more than a search tool, incorporating numerous products, cloud software and marketing services.

And, rather quietly, since about 2 years ago, Google has been entering the travel industry. With a couple of acquisitions of travel businesses, such as ITA Software or Zagat, the track for Google in the travel industry seemed clear.

However, since last June, with the launching of Google Now, they openly embarked on this journey. Called the “perfect travel companion”, this Android-based intelligent tool is already becoming a strong competitor for many travel-related businesses.

Google Now screenshots
Google Now screenshots

Google doesn’t actually sell any travel products, but it holds the power of search results performed by potential travellers. And for a few months, any traveller with an Android looking for travel information, can see the helpful, personalized results of Google Now.

What is Google Now?

Google Now is like a virtual smart personal assistant who remembers all your favorite places and searched items and displays relevant information when you need it. It is framed as a series of mini-widgets, called cards, which help you navigate in real time through a topic.

The most relevant “cards” related to travel are the following:

  • Flight status: showing you boarding cards, delays, gate changes, all taken from your email account
  • Hotel information: it tells you the time until check-in, directions of arrival
  • Travel attractions nearby: any sights that you don’t want to miss in the visited city
  • Public transit: itinerary information, bus/train arrival time, estimated arrival at a certain destination
  • Restaurants: finds you the best places nearby your current position, or at a certain location you choose
  • Photo spot nearby: just like nearby attractions, it shows you any photo spots your camera doesn’t want to miss.

All these can happen in real-time, popping up when you need the information. As Google puts it, you can “be a local, anywhere”.

Do you Collaborate with Google Now?

Google Now cards
Google Now cards

This tool, not only it’s cool and smart and fun to use, but it will change – once again – the travel industry and the way travellers use online sources for decisions, either before travel or on-site.

So if you use it right, this powerhouse innovation will help you out in your business. You need to gear up to use all Google’s features that appear on the app:

  • Register your business on Google Places.
  • Create and get busy on a Google+ business page, which now incorporates reviews as well.
  • Manage online reviews of your business especially those hosted by Google.
  • Upload pictures and other visual information that will help a potential traveller looking you up on Google Now.

And lastly, use Google Now yourself, to see the functionalities, and to gain more creative ideas of taking advantage of this smart travellers’ mobile tool.

The Change for Your Travel Business

No matter what you need to find out, whether it’s the local weather, yesterday’s news about an economic reform, hotel reviews or a history date, you go to Google. So does any potential traveller, to research more about their dream holiday, or find tickets to a flamenco show while on vacation.

And with mobile usage soaring, with 61% of users making local searches from their smartphones, while on the move, Google Now may be just the perfect answer. Objective, personalized information based on their search history, preferences and current location. How can your promotional site compete with that?!

Say you are a hotel chain; a potential customer will not come to your business site to find out relevant information about your facilities. Rather, they will go to Google Now, find hotels in the areas where they want to stay and check objective reviews from Google+ and Places. Your only chance is to collaborate with this tool if you don’t want it to become a threat for your travel business.

Although Now, Google’s latest innovation is fairly fresh, with the Android global market share of 70%, it’s safe to say that in no time the smart assistant will be at nearly everyone’s fingertips. To make sure your business continues to succeed in the constantly changing online environment, it’s always helpful to be up to date with such initiatives, especially if they come from Google.

Have you checked Google Now just yet? Are you already incorporating optimization for this service?

Photos credits: Google/Android official blog.
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