Google adds new Covid-19 information to travel searches

14 Aug 2020250 Views

Image: © Thaspol/Stock.adobe.com

Google’s new features aim to give holidaymakers more confidence in their choice of destination.

According to Richard Holden, Google’s vice-president of product management in the travel division, there has been a rise in the number of searches for places to go on holidays. This was noted in a blog post outlining some new measures Google has introduced, which aim to make travel decisions easier for users.

Google users seeking information on hotels or attractions already receive a Covid-19 travel advisory note, where they can see more information on the current situation in that destination.

The company has also updated Google Maps to include driving alerts, notifying travellers about Covid-19 checkpoints and restrictions in their chosen routes.

But as restrictions and advisories begin to lift in different regions, Holden said that Google is adding information about travel resuming in specific destinations on Google Search.

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“In the next week, you’ll see the percentage of open hotels with availability and flights operating in the city or county level based on Google Flights and Hotels data from the previous week.”

Smartphone screens with illustrations of the new features displayed.

Examples of some of Google’s new features. Image: Google

When users attempt to plan a trip on Google or search for things to do in a particular area, they will be linked to additional local resources, including the number of Covid-19 cases in that area.

Holden also announced the introduction of a new feature that enables users to filter searches for accommodation to hotels that have free cancellation policies, in order to provide consumers with more flexible options.

“The uncertainty of Covid-19 makes it hard to navigate travel decisions,” he said. “We’ll continue to share the most relevant information so you can make informed decisions and travel safely when the time comes up.”

While non-essential travel abroad is still being discouraged in Ireland, the features may be useful for deciding where to go on a staycation or domestic holiday. From a quick test, however, it appears that Google has not included warnings about travelling to Kildare, Laois and Offaly, which are currently under temporary additional Covid-19 restrictions.

Kelly Earley is a journalist with Siliconrepublic.com

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