Google Trips – The Onset Of Algorithm Based Tourism?

On September 19th Google announced its latest foray into the world of travel with its new app, Google Trips.

What Is It?

Google Trips is a personal, dedicated trip planner and travel guide for the hedonistic traveller. You can organise plane tickets and hotel reservations before you leave, read up on destinations with its over 200 city guides and even receive personalised recommendations for your trip based on your Google history.

As someone who is going on a city break later in the year I was keen to explore Google’s latest buzz release and whether its form of algorithm based tourism will leave you reaching for your passport.

Google Trips - Travel App - 8MS

Image source: Google

The App

The first thing to note is the interface. Google have introduced a nice clean and colourful app designed to make searching and adding destinations easy. By simply entering your destination you are presented immediately with recommendations – for places to see, things to do, getting around and where best to eat and drink. It even lists local emergency numbers and local expert knowledge to make your visit less intimidating.
It provides set itineraries for those who may be travelling for only a short period of time, ensuring you can cram in all the important sights and landmarks no matter how short you’re stay is. Itineraries also pulls in Google Maps to make sure you won’t get lost navigating your way around, and can also suggest places to stop to refuel on the way.

Success To Date

So with all this at your fingertips, what is behind the relatively slow uptake in downloads of Google Trips (as of 6th October only accrued 500,000 downloads of the app through Play Store)?
The answer would presumably be other products already have a stranglehold on the market. It’s release is clearly an affront to other mobile apps’ dominance of the travel market, namely TripAdvisor. Google is clearly keen to dominate certain markets and the release of Google Trips is designed to spearhead themselves into the travel industry.

But can it dent the market dominance of TripAdvisor?

Probably not. Google has shown in the past that with many of its product launches (e.g. Google+) they are too late to join an already saturated party. Google champion the fact that trips can be downloaded for use offline. A handy feature to save on roaming charges you’ll agree. You can do this with TripAdvisor also.

Google Trips vs. Tripadvisor Graph - 8MS Blog

Looking at search trends in the days before and following the release, it’s clear that the app hasn’t generated the kind of hype Google had hoped for. A relatively small spike upon launch that has now settled to relative insignificance. TripAdvisor was not affected.

With no obvious commercialisation in place – Google do not advertise on Trips – it is difficult to conclude what it is they are trying to achieve exactly. Perhaps a push to increase the amount and quality of reviews on listed businesses and services. Google have often had issues with the accuracy and reliability of its reviews system. Perhaps this is a push to rectify this, over time.

Despite this Trips’ strength is that it has Google behind it. With Google’s many products supporting it – including Gmail and Maps – it makes for an accessible and relatively easy to use app.

If you are travelling on limited time it is great. You can visit the main sights efficiently via its itineraries according to how much time you have and want to dedicate to sightseeing. Another positive is the list of emergency contact details for each city/country. This can prove invaluable in the unfortunate event of needing to use them.

All things considered it is clear that Google Trips is no game changer. A nice product but once again, it would seem, Google have arrived to the party when everyone has gone home.

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