Google Hints at Launching a Travel Assistant App

April 26, 2016 • Devin Partida


Have you ever used a travel assistant app? Even if you don’t travel very often, Google has probably been a big help in trip preparations, whether you’re headed out on road trips, day trips or around-the-world journeys.

Already, you can receive information about destinations in seconds and get the low down on low-priced airfares by using the Google Flights search filter.

Now, it seems Google is getting into the travel game in an even bigger way by launching a dedicated mobile app that helps you plan travels.

Local Guide Participants Can Beta Test It

Google representatives sent an e-mail to some members of its user base who are taking part in the Local Guides program. It lets people who are experts about their communities give tips to people who are visiting or who have just moved to the area.

In return for dispensing that local knowledge, guides earn points that let them achieve progressively higher levels in the program. People at certain levels get rewarded with things like free Google Drive storage upgrades, invitations to events that Google hosts and chances to test new products.

Recently, all Local Guides who had reached level two or higher got an invitation to possibly try Google’s new travel app. The e-mail they received indicated they’d have to fill out a survey first to apply for the opportunity to be a beta tester for the highly anticipated travel app.

If selected, they’d receive further instructions. Local Guides had until April 25th to earn enough points to reach level two and potentially test the app.

Details Are Scarce

As for what the app might do to make it simpler to plan trips, that’s anyone’s guess for now. In the e-mail Google sent out, this new offering was described as a “travel assistant app” that will be compatible with iOS and Android.

Some people speculate perhaps the app might integrate all the main components of planning a trip, such as booking flights, finding hotels and researching attractions, and let people do all those things within the app instead of using multiple tools. It’s also possible Google might offer an itinerary function so people can keep tabs on where they’re supposed to be and when.

Since Google is heavily driven by search engine optimization, it’s also likely if hotel listings are a part of this new app, they’ll be ranked in a strategic way that makes it easier for people to pick the properties that are most appropriate.

For example, if a hotel’s information is regularly updated and has a lot of current, recent reviews from people who have stayed there, such a property might rank more highly in the listings than others.

Some travel industry experts have speculated it’d be in an establishment’s best interests to make sure it’s optimized for mobile viewing and also is participating with the partners that Google normally uses when showcasing travel content. The company has already reportedly been making changes to the way it uses paid ads that relate to travel content.

Looking Ahead

Many people agree Google’s mysterious travel app will likely depend on human input to drive its content, and that perhaps Local Guides will propel things forward even beyond being beta testers.

If that’s true, it’ll be important for Google to take precautions to ensure the content listed on the app is trustworthy and not overrun by spammers.

Luckily, we won’t have to wait too long to know for sure what Google representatives have been working on.

The app should be reaching beta testers within days, and as soon as that happens, we can feel almost certain those tech-savvy travelers will eagerly put the app through its paces and give a full report on its capabilities.