A better, faster travel planning experience: 2012 updates

12/19/12 | 6:00:00 AM

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(Cross-posted on the ITA Software By Google blog)

Google aims to help people turn their intents into actions, lightning fast. For travelers, this means we’re helping to take the complexity out of planning a trip by making it fast and easy for users to find the information they need to plan their next journey. Whether you’re looking for information about flights, hotels, activities or destinations, we have tools to help you -- and they are easily accessible for people on the go. Some of our favorite new functionality is outlined below.

More information, better presentation 

This year, we’ve made some changes to the user interface of Flight Search, and added features that offer more information about amenities and fees; we did this to help users feel well-informed, and to help them quickly choose the best itinerary.

For instance, you can now quickly compare multiple destinations and multiple days simultaneously, using live prices, with our recently introduced experimental feature called Flight Explorer. Try it at www.google.com/flights/explorer.

    Flight Explorer experiment search results page 

You can also use a number of new features to tailor your flight shopping:
  • More easily calculate the total cost of your trip by taking a look at the baggage fees displayed next to each flight option 
  • Choose a flight offering in-air connectivity by viewing a new indicator noting flights that offer Wi-Fi 
  • Consider a little more luxury in the sky by comparing the cost of flying business or first class instead of coach 
  • Easily plan complex itineraries -- such as those including multiple stops, or trips that involve a flight into one city and a return trip from another -- without confusion, using our new, user-friendly interface 
    Multi-city trip, Wi-Fi availability indicator, upgrade cost and checked baggage fees 

    Going global 

    In March, we made it possible for users to find flights to more than 500 destinations outside the US. Soon after, we enabled this capability for any international destination airport, for flights originating from the US or Canada. Globetrotters can try these features at www.google.com/flights, or just type your departure city and destination in the search box.

    Results for international destination flight 

    And late this year, we rolled out localized versions of Hotel Finder in France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Switzerland, Austria, Portugal, UK and Ireland. Now, people in those areas can search for and view hotel options in their own language and currency.

    Helping people make informed hotel choices 

    In 2012, we made it even easier to find and book the right hotel for you using Hotel Finder. We also added more content including Zagat reviews and amenities. Hotel Finder now shows the price and availability for a choice of room types.

    Pricing information, reviews, hotel details on Hotel Finder 

    Varying room types on Hotel Finder 

    You can try these features, and others, at www.google.com/hotels.

    Empowering road warriors, delivering better destination data 

    In September, we made it easier for you to find the information needed to plan a trip, whether you’re searching via desktop, smartphone or tablet.

    Soon after, updates to Google Now offered a number of ways for you to stay informed while on the go:
    • Automatic flight status notifications 
    • Updates on weather at your destination 
    • Showcase of events happening nearby 
    • Website suggestions to help you explore as you research things to do
    • Electronic boarding pass cards for ease of travel
    Google now travel cards

    Finally, you can easily tap into the collective intelligence of the web to uncover a list of information relevant to your destination, using the Knowledge Graph carousel -- and hopefully, find inspiration.

    Knowledge Graph carousel list of activities in Rome

    Stay tuned for more. We think you’ll love what we have coming your way in 2013.