For years, Google has been the go-to platform for internet searches. More recently, however, Google has begun offering some competition in the travel world with its expansion of tools on Google Travel, a portal that allows users to book everything from flights and hotels to restaurant reservations.
Google’s diversifying suite of travel tools puts a serious amount of information at users’ fingertips, much of it aimed at saving money. Here are some of the best tools on the platform.
Google is famous for its analytics capabilities and the company has funneled this expertise to your flight booking experience in multiple ways. When you search for a flight, the results not only include a prices for the dates and destination you chose but also other helpful ways to present the data.
Among the more recent additions is Price Graph, which displays daily flight prices over the course of months. The information is presented in a bar chart allowing you to visually identify when there are significant price changes.
Multiple airport searches
Yet another powerful Google Travel tool allows users to search price results for multiple airports simultaneously for both departure and destination locations.
Here's what travel agents told us about how to pick your next vacation destination.
In other words, you can enter up to seven origin airports in a search query, and up to seven destination airports and Google will return information about all of those potential flight routes at once, rather then you searching each flight path individually, said Scott Keyes, founder of Scott’s Cheap Flights.
“It will search 49 routes. So, what would normally take 20 or 30 minutes of your time, Google Flights can do in two to three seconds,” said Keyes.
Not only does this tool make searching multiple options far quicker, it also allows for immediately comparing the cost savings associated with arriving and departing from different locations.
Price history tool
The new price insight function for flight searches is also worth checking out. This useful tool indicates whether the prices you’re seeing in a query result are higher or lower than normal.
This feature, said Keyes, allows for understanding whether you’re getting a reasonable price or should consider holding off on booking.
Set price limits & explore the world map
For those who have a specific travel budget but no idea where to go, Google offers a flight search function that allows for setting price limits on airfare and obtaining a list of all destinations around the world within your budget.
“Where Google Flights excels is when you’re in a situation where you want to take a vacation but you’re not 100% sure where or when,” said Keyes.
Baggage fee details
It’s no secret that baggage fees are wildly unpopular. Now you can search flight prices based on those annoying fees. The Google Travel platform allows you to input the number of bags you plan to check and get flight price results that include the costs of your checked luggage.
“Rather than searching just what the fares are, you can search which fares include a checked bag,” said Keyes. “You can say I only want to see fares that include a full-size carry-on bag, for instance, or you can say ‘I want to see what the fares would cost with a checked bag,’ making it more personalized for what you’re looking for.”
Google’s hotel search portal has also added a handful of new tools including “When to Visit” and “What You’ll Pay,” said Keyes.
When to Visit provides details about the busiest season for a given destination, what the weather will likely be throughout the year and what you can expect to pay for a hotel for each month of the year.
What You’ll Pay, provides a breakdown of nightly hotel prices by category (two-star, three-star etc.) and indicates whether the prices are higher than normal, lower than normal or about average, much like the flight search tool.
“So, for instance, it will say in early March, in Atlanta, two-star hotels are averaging $65 per night, which is lower than usual,” said Keyes. “So, a traveler might be more inclined to book now. But without a historical marker, you’re left wondering if $65 is a good or bad price.”
While some of the information available on the Google Travel platform may be found on other online travel booking sites, overall, Google excels in its presentation of data and ease of use, said Keyes.
“Google has always been built in such a shrewd and user-focused way, it’s almost always the best user experience,” said Keyes. “The results are quick, seamless and easy to understand. It’s saving you money, but it is also saving you time.”
Want more money moves in your inbox? Sign up for our newsletter.
Image: GraphicaArtis (Getty)