Yesterday SearchEngineLand.com was reporting a new feature rolling out into the Google Local Carousel. If you search for a hotel in a popular city with enough inventory, not only do you receive a carousel result, you can also narrow your choices by entering your dates of stay.
For users this is a way to further qualify hotel choices before you even reach the website.
For Hotels & Marketers, this is another step towards Google narrowing choices and providing information to users before they even reach your website. While this looks invasive, and it’s meant to disrupt how users interact with a website – it’s a half-baked and very limited offering by Google.
I used a clean browser to do a query for Denver co hotel.
I then changed the dates to Feb 14-16, 2014 to see availability. The local carousel did not adjust or change the top 7 or so results after I entered dates.
If I select a hotel, in this example the Magnolia Hotel, from the carousel, the search results change and a knowledge panel comes up for the Magnolia Hotel:
Here’s the problem – no matter what result I click on – or link in the “reviews” section of the sidebar – the date I selected in the carousel is lost. In fact, the dates I entered in the carousel are only preserved if I click on one of the results in the drop down in the knowledge panel – the issue here is the searcher is invited to book with a variety of sites – but the hotel’s own website is DEAD LAST.
What does this mean for hotels? It means you need to compete. You need to rank in the Paid ads, you need to rank well organically, and you need to have a presence in the GDS services – because if your PPC or organic placement doesn’t capture the user – your competitor that does well in Hotels.com, Expedia.com, etc is going to out book you.