Google adds new features to help with your travel plans in the COVID era
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
We all know travel planning right now looks much different from just months ago. And platforms like Google Travel are catching up with the times.
For more TPG news delivered each morning to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.
U.S. travel restrictions vary from state to state, with the number of COVID-19 cases fluctuating on a regular basis. That means the biggest consideration in vacationing is likely where exactly to go — and how to sort through all the destination and travel policies.
Google Travel is releasing several new tools to its search functionality to make the pandemic travel process easier. By pulling together coronavirus data and information on flights and hotels, the search giant wants to position itself as a one-stop destination for travel planning in this new era.
In the coming weeks, Google will roll out features such as local coronavirus case counts, the percentage of flights that are in operation and hotel availability numbers while searching for travel. These are all “travel trends” and will join the existing alerts that Google already offers on its platform.
Google Travel is also adding a new “free cancellation” filter to sort for accommodations that offer free refunds. Most of the major hotel chains are offering flexible policies, and Google looks to streamline all of that information.
“The No. 1 question we are getting is: Can we travel safely at all? And we’ve tried to address that by including advisory updates in travel searches,” Richard Holden, vice president of product management for Google Travel told Bloomberg.
Several of the features were available to me when I did a sample search for hotels in Springdale, Utah (the gateway city to Zion National Park).
This search told me that 79% of rooms were available and I could filter and toggle by COVID-19 responder rooms and hotels that had a free cancellation policy.
While the latter two search functions can be helpful, I don’t find much use out of the available hotel rooms since it’s on a macro destination level. What I would love to see is how much occupancy is available on an individual hotel basis, but that is a feature that may require complexities with hotels’ reservation systems.
All-in-all, these tools are modest, yet constructive ways to paint a fuller picture of what travel may look like in a given city. And as travelers, we could use any help we can get during this confusing time to get away.
Featured photo by Meghan Hunter/The Points Guy
Welcome to The Points Guy!
WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points
TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,600
CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners
*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.
- Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
- 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide, eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
- Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
- Earn 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022. That’s 3X points in addition to the 2X points you already earn on travel.