March 20, 2013

Social search based on reviews affecting hotel bookings

Search is getting a lot more social, which means user recommendations will play an increasingly important role in hotel shopping and booking. Here is what two Facebook and Google executives address the topic at the recent PhoCusWright event at ITB Berlin.

For example, a traveler who wants to find a good restaurant in Berlin might be inclined to ask a knowledgeable friend than sift through 2,000 restaurant reviews online. If that same person needed to book a flight to Berlin, however, instead of asking a friend for advice, he or she would go to meta search engine Kayak. And finally, if the traveler simply wanted the hotel’s address in Berlin, he or she might just do a quick search query in Google.

“Each of these things is important to the consumer, but each of them individually is not powerful enough,” Fauser said.

Intermediaries are looking to incorporate all those layers. Google, for example, is factoring in a user’s online social interactions to deliver more tailored search results. Facebook is incorporating its Graph Search and Nearby tools in its platforms, which allow users to search for nearby hotels and view which friends have stayed there, left comments, etc.

“Eventually it will play a part in all parts of the funnel,” McCabe said of social integration.

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