Google is clearly rather pleased with the recent full launch of its Trips application for mobile devices.
The free app (available on both Android and Apple devices) aims to be a personalised tour guide for travellers and is arguably the most significant launch in the travel space for Google since it created the Flights and Hotel Finder products a few years back.
Trips pulls reservation details for flights and hotels out of a user’s Gmail account to build lists of suggested itineraries. Once the user is at their destination, the app then suggests relevant attractions based on the time of day and the user’s location, all without the need for a web connection.
Other details include recommendations for places to eat and drink, what a traveller needs to know about a destination and how to get around.
Some are already pondering whether the launch of Trips will help draw the curtains on countless travel planning applications in the marketplace given its ability to mine a user's inbox for bookings and bring in travel-related content that is already in the Google algorithm.
Perhaps the most jarring aspect for newbies and existing players trying to find a place in the sector (and make money to grow, or even just survive) is that Google has yet to established one of the most important aspects for such a product.
Speaking at the WebInTravel conference in Singapore this week, Google's director of travel, Eric Zimmerman, says the company "hasn't thought about monetisation or commercialisation" for Trips.
Obviously, this will eventually come (Google doesn't do things for the love of it), but the luxury of being able to figure out how something can make money once it has got a solid user base is not something many companies can afford to do.
Where this is most likely to come is in some of the in-destination services, perhaps via product links that usually adorn Google's search engine result pages, such as restaurants, attractions and ground transportation.
It is understood that integration to services such as Uber within the app is under consideration, for example.
Another example is if a user has bought an air ticket to get to a destination, but has yet to secure somewhere to stay, it will leave the reservations channel in app wide open for existing accommodation providers to be integrated via Hotel Price Ads.
Google is deadly serious about Trips and, like many other travel brands, says it is building products with a mobile-first mentality.
The company inevitably says it is creating new opportunities for it to work with travel brands via the app (once it figures it all out), but don't bet against Google pouring a lot of effort and resources into Trips as it seeks to create a one-stop shop for travellers.
Trips is a significant moment for Google and, as one delegate suggests privately, its long-running jigsaw puzzle is beginning to near completion, which should perhaps make many in the industry rather nervous.
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