Not too long ago, we reported on a potentially massive shift in the vacation rental listing hub / OTA world: Google wants in. And if you’re familiar with Google’s business operations, you know their inevitable dominance is a slow burn.
At the risk of appearing preferential in the matter, we feel there’s enough evidence to say that Google’s main draw is its near flawless customer satisfaction. They build the platforms that other services depend on, and the brand has become a genericization for internet searches. So it’s easy to understand how significant their venture into VR listings could be. Easy consumer adoption could find a very large migration of vacation rental guests moving away from Airbnb, Booking.com, and the like.
The venture began with a (very) soft launch, allowing users from select areas to list their vacation rentals on the Google Hotels platform. News of their VR listings being built to favor direct bookings was a plus for property owners.
Now that their initial campaign to test the waters has been a success, Google has partnered with the VR listing site Vacasa. The deal will allow Google to search and book Vacasa‘s listings directly.
While Vacasa’s listings are certainly providing a foundation for Google to begin its ascent, there’s much larger API connections to be made. OTAs holding the majority market share could stonewall any attempts to partner and slow Google’s progress. But there’s not much to be done as far as stopping them.
One of the most attractive reasons for VRMs and guests alike to begin using Google’s Hotel search is the Google suite integrations. Let’s take a look at some of the assured (and some potential) outlets that a Google Hotels listing comes with:
- Google Maps can mark locations of local vacation rentals.
- Google Business can provide customer a trustworthy review platform.
- Google Analytics can give owners accurate reporting and actionable insights.
- Google Home can serve as a bridge for smart home device integration (door locks, lights, security, etc).
- Google Developers can open the search platform up for tons of integrations, add-on products, and software that’ll expand functionality.
Therein lies the real threat for OTAs – there’s no competing with that. A few competitor listing sites get absorbed and suddenly Airbnb and Booking.com will have a new contender to deal with.
Luckily, the consumer wins here! Not just guests, but vacation rental owners and managers are going to benefit from this venture as well. We’ll keep an eye on Google’s progress for more exciting developments!