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Travel sites and apps beware – Google Trips could change the way we travel

For the modern traveller, Google’s latest app rollout is a dream come true. For other sites in the travel industry, it could be cause for concern.

Google’s latest app, Google Trips, is not the first example of Google expanding its reach into other areas with apps and updates that pose a threat to content produced by much smaller businesses. This kind of expansion was demonstrated when Google released Google Compare into the car insurance market in early 2015 and more recently with the rollout of Shop the Look which will compete with sites like Pinterest.

Now, the search engine giant is at again with the announcement of Google Trips.

What is Google Trips?

Travellers often experience similar problems whilst on the move, such as difficulty accessing relevant information, having travel documents and information spread across a number of different apps and locations, not having access to directions on the web and the never ending drama of finding Wi-Fi hotspots.

Google Trips is set to make the lives of travellers much easier by merging all of this information into one location.

Google announced the rollout of the App in an official blog post, saying: “We wanted to reduce the hassle and help travellers enjoy their hard-earned vacations. So today, we’re introducing a new mobile app to help you instantly plan each day of your trip with just a few taps of your finger: Google Trips.”

The app enables you to save things like reservations, day plans, sights to see and restaurants for each destination you’re travelling to. You can create trips filled with your own preferences or use suggestions from Google. The app also uses intelligence to tailor suggestions to your current situation, such as recommending indoor activities when the weather forecast is for rain.

The video highlights what could be the most attractive feature of Google Trips: you don’t need Wi-Fi or mobile data to access it. Provided you’ve downloaded your destinations and preferences beforehand, you can access the app while offline for directions in Google Maps and information such as your hotel reservations.

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What does this mean for other travel sites and apps?

Travel sites like Airbnb, Lonely Planet as well as travel agencies publish steady streams of content full of information about various destinations, providing tips and advice for their audience to help them plan their travels.

Now that Google has released an app that allows users to save similar information in the one location, these sites could be at risk of losing some of their traffic.

Businesses based around travel and tourism use content marketing to get traffic to their site. Providing articles such as “10 best sites to see in Auckland” or “Best tapas restaurants in Sydney” allows their audience to find the information they want, and encourages them to stay on the site to book their accommodation, flights or tours.

If Google is now offering all of this information for free and in a handy offline format, it may threaten the reach and engagement of these travel sites. Sure, Google Trips is not the world’s first travel app. However while similar apps like TripIt and TripHobo offer a similar experience for managing trip information, they tend to only offer 30-day free trials and then ask you to upgrade to a paid version.

Free apps may have an advantage in this situation, but when you think about the colossal reach that Google has over all corners of the internet, it clearly has access to a much larger reservoir of information, not to mention the capabilities such as location tracking through Google Maps and image search technology.

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