Google Will Guarantee Prices on Select Flights — And Other Features We Love
Google unveiled its replacement for the Google Trips app this week in the form of a flurry of new features for Google Maps and the Google Travel site.
The new tools promise to make Google's trip planning, booking and mapping services more convenient and intuitive for users. A lot of the old app's functionality has simply been moved to other parts of Google's ecosystem, while updates to other services the company offers have vastly improved.
Most of these changes center around Google Maps, and a new portal called Google Travel, which consolidates many of the company's travel services into a single program. Some changes to both services have already been rolled out, and more are coming over the next few weeks.
Related: TPG Beginner's Guide
With all these changes, TPG looked at the features we're most excited to test — and use — in the coming weeks.
Get a Flight Price Guarantee
Google is moving its accommodations search feature, Google Hotels, along with Google Flights, into the Travel portal. TPG has written plenty about Google Flights and Google Hotels, so we're excited to see them integrated into the new Travel portal.
Google has also decided to showcase its price history tool following the move. Google Flights will show you whether current prices for airfare are high or low compared to what others have paid for the same route, and will also let you know when Google is confident prices will not drop any further.
And for select itineraries booked between Aug. 13 and Sept. 2, Google is willing to back up those predictions. Starting Aug. 13, select flights landing before Nov. 24 will display a price guarantee badge on Google Flights.
That means if you book the flight and the price of your fare drops more than $5 below Google's lowest estimate, you'll be refunded the difference up to $500. The price guarantee will only be available on qualifying flights (probably only those pricing at the lowest end of Google's flight price history) within the US, and those to select international destinations.
Though it's too soon to test the feature, we'll be keeping an eye on what flights Google guarantees — and whether or not they end up paying out at the end of November. If you're planning on booking a flight in the next few weeks, consider first checking Google for a price guarantee.
Use Augmented Reality to Find Your Destination
Even with a GPS map in front of you, getting around a new city can be challenging. A new feature in Maps called Live View hopes to remedy this using augmented reality (AR) technology. Travelers will be able to use their phone's camera to find arrows pointing them in the right direction when navigating on foot.
Google's Live View is currently in Beta, but it will be expanding the new function to iOS and Android users with compatible phones this week.
See Reservations in Google Maps and Google Travel
One of my favorite functions of Google Trips is being moved to both Google Maps and Travel. A reservations page similar to the old one will collect bookings for tickets and hotel confirmations sent to users' Gmail accounts all in one place. The reservations are then grouped by destination and organized into trips and vacations.
Although Google Trips could be a little hit and miss about finding reservations in users' emails, I personally had incredible luck with hotels, Airbnbs, flights, buses and trains showing up on the app, including reservations made in languages other than English. I always found this function incredibly useful for locating tickets and confirmation numbers without sifting through my email, and I'm happy it hasn't disappeared.
The feature is already available on Google Travel, and will be coming to Maps soon. Check if your upcoming trips show up at Google.com/Travel.
Find Restaurants You'll Love and Make Reservations
For many, the entire point of taking a vacation is the food. You probably know that you can use Google Maps to find restaurants nearby, but there could be more to the dining function in the app than you expected. Not only can you make reservations within the app, but a function called Your Match can try to predict whether you'll like a restaurant based on previous eating habits. Artificial intelligence can be scary at times, but who knew it could also be delicious?
Your Match didn't appear for me at first because my privacy settings were set high. After I posted a few reviews on Google (well, almost a dozen), I started seeing Your Match recommendations showing up next to user ratings in the Maps app. And many of the places being suggested were, in fact, places I'd been and loved — but hadn't reviewed.
If you don't like sharing ratings and reviews but you still want personalized recommendations, you can also fill out a survey about your favorite types of restaurants and cuisines under the user preferences tab.
Pick the Right Neighborhood
Deciding where you want to stay during your trip can take a lot of research. Finding the right mix of restaurants, history, nightlife and other attractions takes hard work, but an upcoming function in Google Travel could simplify that process.
When searching for hotels on the platform, Google will recommend areas of the city for you and provide a few notes about what each neighborhood is known for. This feature hadn't launched when we tested Google Travel, but should hopefully be coming soon.