Google has introduced new booking features in its flight, hotel and travel search tools to help unlock changing travel rules during an influenza pandemic. Enter Los Angeles in any booking engine, and in addition to the usual options, you’ll get real-time data on COVID-19 cases and how many flights and hotels have resumed service. Currently, no other major travel provider has shown such level of detail.
“The first question we got was,” said Richard Holden, vice president of product management at Google’s travel division. Can we travel safely? And we’re trying to solve this problem by adding a consulting update to our travel search. “The answer depends on both the risk of exposure in one’s country and the risk of destination. Google believes it has the data it needs to help consumers make informed decisions.
Expedia, Kayak and other travel websites have given travel-related outbreak warnings and details. Among them, Kayak’s travel consulting tool is the most comprehensive, in the color-coded map of the world, detailed national policies at a glance. Now, Google makes your data more granular based on your personalized data. For example, when a New Yorker searches, he is prompted to close the Italian border to Americans; These tools are also useful for domestic travel, especially for U.S. residents, who will experience situations that vary from state to state.
As part of the new feature, search for travel to Denver, where you can easily see 63% of flights, 88% of hotels are operating normally, and users click on “Local Cases” to provide a snapshot of the city’s current low COVID-19 spread. Similarly, in Miami, Google’s feature shows that 39% of flights are running and 65% of hotels are open. Google said the lower percentage of hotel or flight resumptions showed that travel operators, from hoteliers to airline executives, were still cautious in the travel market. A higher percentage may be a sign that a destination is going further in reopening.