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This is a new, photo-led way for Google to push its own hotel business as a first option for Google users, ahead of competitors. These collections of hotel images are geared toward capturing the interest of users who are at the earliest stages of searching for a hotel.
Google is making your quest to find a hotel so much more picturesque.
In a typical Google user-experience experiment, a subset of users may enter “Dallas hotels,” or perhaps substitute another city, in the Google search box or Chrome browser, and they will be able to view a horizontal collection of hotel photos (see above) with their Zagat scores, the number of user-written hotel reviews, and the properties’ location on a Google Map.
I couldn’t replicate the hotel-image collection, but thanks to Justin Howley for sending it along.
Google spokesperson Sandra Heikkinen Glading confirmed the experiment.
“We’re always working to make search more useful and experimenting with new ways to present answers you’re looking for. The current experiment with Hotels is similar to Knowledge Graph results we already have for things like celebrities, medications, and other commonly searched for categories.”
Google debuted Knowledge Graph last Summer, and you can see how these image-driven collections and lists work when searching for “New York City things to do,” for example.
In the hotel arena, Google’s Knowledge Graph hotel experiment is an attempt to bring its own hotel business to a broader audience, without forcing them to try Google Hotel Finder to start their search.
In fact, the image-led hotel Knowledge graph collection is much more geared for the casual browser, perhaps someone who is at the very beginning of their search, because you don’t even have to enter a date to trigger the appearance of all of those hotel choices.
It wasn’t clear from the hotel-collection screenshot if it provides links to the more-transaction-oriented Google Hotel Finder, but that is the logical next step.