A new actor will appear on screen, the great promise, Google. It has the potential to stir up the hotel distribution soap and to get the other actors to adapt their roles. Will the audience accept it? Will it change the story or will it just turn out to be another cameo appearance?
This actor has something to offer:
The critics have been talking about its appearance for months. Rumours started a year ago when ITA bought a massive platform that provides it with flight inventory. With this purchase it confirmed its intention to take part in the lucrative series of tourism and that it was going to prepare for the great role in the series: the smart Google Hotel Finder, in this case with hotels (at the moment only for searches in the USA).
Its first appearance on stage has not let anybody down. It remains faithful to its style with a minimalist screen presence which is clear and at the same time looking for that special relation with the audience. At the moment is also totally ads-free. Its character promises you that it will find hotels for you, and that is exactly what it does, with discretion, without any complications and with the speed and agility that have become synonymous with all its previous performances.
Don’t be evil: Will it be the goodie?
Google doesn’t like playing evil roles. “Don’t be evil” is its informal slogan. That’s what it says in its code of conduct. However, it’s got into a series where the characters have totally differing interests but are connected at the same time. How will it translate its good intentions? Will it try to keep everybody happy? Will it just simply fall into its place without shooting anybody or threaten the status quo among the cast? …difficult. To make things even more complicated and adding some excitement, Google already has its own interests, and preserving them will be its own personal challenge: especially Adwords, a very important element of this series.
In the last episode of our soap, the audience was mainly focusing on the torturous love-hate relationship between the two main characters of the latest season: the hotel, eager to get the maximum number of people sleeping with it every night, and the superhero, Booking.com, that also competes wholeheartedly for the love of the client and is more successful at getting it, especially because it manages to get the customer’s loyalty.
Will it ask for commission? Will the hotel end up paying it?
What makes it stand out from the others is hat the Google actor lives off publicity, not off commissions, and what it shows at the moment is the prices as “Ads”. These ads are a new system that Google is testing specifically for hotel prices. At the moment, it only gathers data from the big middlemen, without showing directly the prices of the provider.
The mere fact of charging money for being able to show the price, even if it’s unbiased, it’s not good news for anybody. This situation contributes to perpetuate the eternal system of multiple levels of middlemen, with every one of them asking for their slice of the cake. At that moment the hotel pays Google through the commissions to the middlemen. The innovation of Google Hotel Finder is that it could open the doors to opportunity and hotels could pay directly to be able to display their own pricing. Great opportunity, but at the same time it goes against the possibility that direct sales could be cheaper.
Will it end up as being just a cameo role or will it end up being the leading role?
From its first performance that made of it a star, with the legendary role as search engine, Google has taken on many other roles: some of them have been great successes (Gmail, Adwords, Android, Maps…), others were great flops that it had to let go for lack of audience (Wave, Google Video…).
Google tries everything, its filmography with many small roles is larger than what most people would imagine. Google itself introduces them with Labs.
Will Google Hotel Finder make an impact and consolidate itself, or will it end up as a forgotten curiosity? At the moment, Google has been clever enough to label this new performance as “experiment”, although that doesn’t mean a lot. Gmail spent years as a beta project and when it moved on from this status, not that long ago, it was already one of the main email platforms.
The leading actor up to now… threatened?
Of course, Booking.com appears also in this episode with its price and its link. Booking.com is already a seasoned actor used to perform its best in any scene. In fact, one of the reasons of its popularity is that besides being good in its individual performances (for instance, in the page Booking.com), it also captivates the audience with its cameos in third parties ventures like affiliates or metasearch engines. It wants to be in all the scenes and be victorious with all its superpowers (for instance, with the minimum price, that it obsesses about and it’s making the hotel hate it because it’s taking advantage).
Others compete with similar roles
It’s the group of comparison sites or metasearch engines: they work as a directory for hotels, price comparison websites and they point the audience towards the superhero-middlemen.
It seems as if Google Hotel Finder is not offering the audience anything new than other less important actors hadn’t already tried, like Kayak or Trivago among others. The only significant difference is the prominence that the hotel’s website gets from Google (Kayak did show a link to the hotel, but only if it didn’t have any other source).
Everyone of them displays different styles and nuances, Kayak prefers a lot of information, while Google prefers simplicity and Trivago markets itself through its omnipresent TV trailers, but in essence they are fighting for the same character. Why is it expected of Google to get more attention than the others have got so far? Is it using its brand name to attract the audience?
And our man, the hotel’s website?
The new episode starts with good news: Google seems to want to make friends with the hotel’s website and it gives it a permanent space that won’t go unnoticed by the audience. Let’s hope that those good intentions will be fruitful in the next seasons also displaying the prices. That would be something totally new up to now on stage.
Where are the old stars?
Having in the series such a young and attractive actor as Google reminds us of the leading actors of previous seasons, that disappeared off the stage a while ago: tour operators, GCSs and physical agencies.
We know that they are still successful in summer-cinemas and tourist resorts. They are fighting back and threatening with coming back with successful urban ticket sellers, even with superheroes roles. They seem to be very sure of their superpower: “value added”. However, at the moment the script writers don’t have a space for them. Totally normal: the last episodes have been shot in areas that are totally alien to them. SEO, SEM, social networks…
What can the hotel do?
As you can see, there are more questions than answers about the future of the series, but it hasn’t been written yet and nobody knows what’s happening, At the moment, it’s only present in American screens for hotel searches in that country. It’s expected that it will be released in Europe in the next few months. While we wait for it to arrive, the hotel can prepare itself in two different ways:
- Making sure that it has filled out the information and optimized Google Places, a platform that is being increasingly used to identify and gather information from the companies.
- Thinking about an issue that many hotels find difficult to consider: Direct sales are getting cheaper and cheaper. Google Hotel Finder forces you to think about it again. Is the hotel ready to invest to appear directly paying the same as for appearing through middlemen? Probably, many hotels will comply, however the believe that direct sales carry low costs is cracking up. It’s a totally new mentality.