Thanks to last week’s Huffington Post article about the Google Flights, it is now trending on Facebook.
The article lists 6 things that Google Flights can do better than your human travel agent.
The number 2 item on the Huffington Post list is go with the ‘I’m feeling lucky’ feature on Google Flights and let Google select your destination for you.
Really? This feature is interesting… but how many people are going to actually go on a trip based on clicking the I’m feeling Lucky’ button on Google Flights? And how is this any better than asking well-traveled travel agent which of their favorite destinations would the recommend for you?
At a quick glance, Google Flights looks flight search looks very similar to Kayak’s search results.
I looked at the Huffington List, and the only feature that I see where Google Flights is better than Kayak.com is the Search for Flights by region. So, you know you want to fly to Europe at the end of the month but not sure where in Europe. Just Google Flights to Europe.
With this search on Google Flights, you can see where in the region has the best flight deals:
Other than that, Google Flights and Kayak’s flight search are very similar. Here’s my search for CLT to Cancun at the end of March. On both sites, I can set up alerts for price drops and I can make my dates flexible to search for lower rates. Google may give me a tip that I can drive 75 minute to another airport and save $100.
In the red box below, Kayak does give future price predictions with a percentage certainty on whether or not prices will go up or down. I do not see the predictive functionality on Google Flights.
What does this mean for Travel Agents?
Many times, great cruise deals get ruined by high-priced flights. So any tool that helps travel agents quickly pair up awesome cruise deals and reasonable airfare is very useful.
Quick Example. Let’s say there are several Europe Summer Cruise Deals. The cruises are departing from Barcelona, Rome, Venice, or Southhampton.
Now we have Google Flights Region Search to quickly see which of the cruises can be paired up with the best airfare.
As Technology has continued to advance, Travel Agents have made a huge resurgence even with the most prevalent users of technology. Read BizJournal’s Article about Millennials driving the comeback of travel agents.
One way Travel Agents can beat Google Flights is with their ability to package flights together with hotels, all-inclusive resorts, and even cruises to save money compared to buying them all separate.
Travel Agents also have first hand knowledge about destinations and hotels. Travel Agents are able to make sense of all the online reviews [a secret: some online reviews are fake]. The Travel Agents only goal is for the traveler to have the best vacation possible so that they will become a repeat client.
Plus, a lot of the Google Flights functionality is only available based on different searches. The functionality will continue to change.
My recommendation would be that all travel agents become experts in using the tool. Some people like to do things themselves while others would rather have an expert do it regardless of the tools at their disposal.
Kayak should probably be the most worried about Google Flights.
While Kayak has name recognition and much of the same functionality as Google Flights, Kayak has to be concerned because Google controls Search.
These results for a Google Search on Flights show the major advantage Google has over Kayak [I added the green box]:
So, most of the functionality has been available from Kayak for a couple of years. I do think the Region Search will be useful to Travel Agents – I know I’ll use it for my Cruise Deal research.
Obviously, it what makes it a really big deal to competitors like Kayak is that Google owns search and Google isn’t being bashful about putting Google Flights front and center on Search results.[box] AUTHOR NOTE: Rich Tucker is Cruise Price Trend expert regularly featured in publications like NY Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, etc. [/box]