If you've planned any business travel in the past few years, you've likely used Google Flights at some point. The site has useful features such as price tracking so you can buy your flight at the right time, the ability to search multiple airports, and explore options that allow you to see what destinations are cheapest to fly to. While these services are useful, they've been somewhat limited to flights.
Now, Google has launched new features to help you pick the best hotel for your business trip. These features can help you find the best accommodations on the basis of your needs. They also conveniently help you compare prices across different platforms.
Here are some tips on how to use the tool efficiently:
1. Use the "when to visit" tab.
If you have a bit of flexibility in your business travel, this tool may be useful. When visiting google.com/travel, after searching for a hotel in the destination, you can click on the "when to visit" tab, which tells you when the best times to visit are, on the basis of popularity (including how crowded it may be), any annual special events to be aware of, pricing, and weather.
Furthermore, by clicking on the "what you'll pay" tab, you can see and compare average prices for 2, 3, 4, and 5-star hotels. If you'd rather book a home rental instead, you can also search for prices by clicking on the "vacation rental" tab. You can sort them by guest ratings, amenities (including free Wi-Fi and kitchen availability), and the number of bedrooms and bathrooms you'd like.
These two hotel features are unique to Google (though Hopper also offers guidance on when the best time to book is). Being able to see when a place is going to be heavily populated and more expensive is helpful if you have flexibility in your business travel.
Plus, the ability to search and differentiate between hotels and vacation rentals without having to go to another site is useful, especially if you are going on an extended trip and prefer to stay in a home rather than a hotel. If you want flexibility, use one of the best rewards credit cards to not only earn points/miles on your purchases, but also because they include travel perks.
2. Narrow your options down by neighborhood.
When searching for hotels, clicking on the "where to stay" tab gives you a little background on the area, including what the area is known for (e.g., museums, dining, shopping, hip vibes, residential, green spaces), a location score for visitors, and the average price of a hotel per night. This tool can be especially helpful if you're looking for a quiet neighborhood with maybe more greenery and want to avoid hip or trendy areas.
On the other hand, if you want to be near shopping and dining, you can narrow your search to include only those areas. Because Google can integrate Google Maps, this feature gives business travelers a few more options when determining their stay.
3. Get personal results.
It's common knowledge that comparing prices can help you ensure that you are getting a good deal. However, after sifting through the typical sea of search results, they can all start to blur. Or, if you travel often, you may find yourself trying to remember which hotel you stayed at previously that you liked.
Now Google can tell you whether you've searched for or even stayed at the hotel before. Even more helpful, it'll list similar options to places you've been a guest at in other cities and give you options near to specific landmarks you've searched for. If you prefer not to use this feature, you can turn it off in your account settings and instead use an app like TripIt, which can help you keep organized.
4. Know the total cost, including taxes and fees.
It can be frustrating to find a seemingly good deal on a hotel, only to get the final bill and see that the cost has gone up exponentially because of various taxes and fees. Google now lets you know the price for each night and the total cost (including fees and taxes) for the stay. This is a helpful addition to search capabilities as not all booking sites are so forthcoming regarding prices.
5. Go back to where you left off.
If you are signed in to your Google account while you search for and plan your travel, you'll be able to see your reservations as you continue to explore. You're now able to see the trip you've been researching and pick up where you stopped, as Google lets you know that you've viewed the hotel before.