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Google Maps Set To Get Major Travel Upgrade

Google Maps is widely used in Australia today at the expense of navigation systems from the likes of Navman and Tom Tom, now the big search Company is set to flex their Google Travel capability a move that could seriously put pressure on organisations such as Bookings.com, Expedia, Priceline and TripAdvisor.

Shortly Google will launch a more unified travel product to integrate flight and hotel search functions, while organizing people’s travel plans and saving time on research.

The new offerings, which were rolled out last year on smartphones and are now available on desktops, will be hosted at google.com/travel.

I have been using Google Flights to search for flight availability and pricing and it has proved to be significantly better than most other travel search engines.

Now Google Maps is set to get a major update with the inclusion of expanded travel data, among the upgrades will be the ability to make hotel and restaurant reservations when one is logged on. Google made the announcement last night at a marketing conference in San Francisco.

“What we’ve noticed over time is that trip planning is done over many weeks or many months,” said Richard Holden, Google’s vice president of travel product management. People tend to plan trips and peruse hotel and restaurant sites when they have time, he said, but often have no way to save their search results or flight queries.

“We’re already getting users coming to Google who are asking questions,” Holden said. “We frankly haven’t done a good job of connecting those sessions in the past.”

Google’s moves to bolster its position in travel is designed to drive further searches and potential “higher-qualified leads” for its partner companies, such as airlines and hotels — “so people will recognize Google as a place where I do travel research,” Holden said.

That could be a threat to Expedia.com and Bookings.com said Bloomberg.

At a conference last year in Las Vegas, Expedia Chief Executive Officer Mark Okerstrom called Google his company’s most important rival. TripAdvisor also competes with Google in the travel search business.