Google unveils new tools to aid businesses in tourism industry

Google has launched a new website aimed to help businesses in the tourism industry understand travel demand and make better-informed decisions. Titled "Travel insights with Google", the website contains three new tools: destination insights, hotel insights, and the travel analytics centre. 

The destination insights tool looks to give travel businesses, governments and tourism boards a clear picture of the top sources of demand for a destination, and the destinations within their countries that travellers are most interested in visiting. This helps them map out a possible resumption of travel on specific routes and make choices about where to communicate with potential future travelers.

Meanwhile, the hotel insights tool is said to be designed to help hotels, especially small and independent hotels, understand how to target their marketing as they plan their recovery. According to Google, there are still millions of searches for hotels on its platform every day, which allows it to generate extensive insights about demand for hotel bookings. With these insights, businesses can understand where demand for their property may be coming from, and gain a better idea on how to execute their marketing strategies. Google hopes the destination insights tool and hotel insights tool will provide businesses with a chance to have more data-driven discussions and informed strategies.  

Google's third tool, the travel analytics centre boasts to enable organisations to combine their own Google account data with broader Google demand data and insights. The travel analytics centre is available to Google’s commercial partners in the travel sector who may need support for their advertiser campaigns. With this tool, they can see similar demand data overlaid with their own account data or Google Flights data, where relevant. Based on data from their Travel Analytics Center account, advertisers may choose to adjust their campaigns, such as with geotargeting changes based on destination trends. This also gives them a clearer picture of how to manage their operations and find opportunities to reach potential visitors. 

In addition to the three new tools, the "Travel Insights with Google" site is said to be a one-stop location for other industry resources, including skills training through grow with Google, digital garage and Google for small business. It will also host resources from the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO). Google also said it will keep expanding the website with new resources in months ahead. 

In a statement to MARKETING-INTERACTIVE, Hermione Joye, sector lead, APAC travel, said Google's goal is to broadly help the travel industry understand and adjust to the changes in consumer demand generated by COVID-19, and it is aware that data and insights can be a critical factor. As the global economy recovery continues, Google hopes the tools will be widely adopted and used across the travel industry. 

To ensure the global travel industry benefits from its tools, Google has made this information available to governments, tourism boards and the travel industry, regardless if they use Google Ads or not. In APAC, Joye said Google has engagements with organisations such as Singapore Tourism Board, UNWTO, Taiwan Tourism Bureau, U.S. Travel Association, and American Hotel & Lodging Association. She added that on a global scale, Google has a collaboration with UNWTO where the two entities are developing a series of online acceleration programmes designed for member states' tourism ministers, their teams, travel associations, tourism boards and destination marketing organisations to foster innovation and digital transformation for better tourism planning. 

Commenting on Google's new tools, Lynette Pang, assistant chief executive, marketing group at Singapore Tourism Board, said it is heartening that industry players such as Google have created solutions to support the tourism sector in these challenging times. "The destination insights tool will be an easy and useful tool for tourism stakeholders to better understand travel trends and consumer demands in a timely manner. We hope that this will empower more data-driven business decisions and fuel innovation, so as to enable businesses to reimagine their offerings and emerge stronger," she added. 

Desmond Lee, minister for national development and co-chair of the Emerging Stronger Taskforce added: “Travel remains an essential industry for Singapore, and a key opportunity that the Emerging Stronger Taskforce has identified as part of our recovery efforts. As we look towards reopening our borders safely, we hope that Google’s destination insights will provide valuable insights into people’s travel aspirations to facilitate data-driven decisions as we work together to welcome the world to our shores again.”

Meanwhile, H.E. Wishnutama Kusubandio, minister of tourism and creative economy of Indonesia, said when it comes to tourism recovery, he believes that digital technology can be part of the solution. Case in point, the destination insights tool that is developed by Google is very useful as it helps all travel industry players understand the real time demands trends and evolving travel situation in light of the pandemic.

Google's launch of digital tools come as the global tourism industry tries to recover from arguably its most detrimentally impacted year. According to a report by UNWTO in October, travel and tourism is among the most affected sectors due to COVID-19 pandemic, with Asia Pacific suffering a 79% decrease in arrivals from January to August this year.

International tourist arrivals also declined 70% in the same period. UNWTO reported 700 million fewer international tourist arrivals compared to 2019, which translated into a loss of US$730 billion in export revenues from international tourism, which is more than eight times the loss in 2009 under the impact of the global economic crisis. UNWTO added this is by far the worst result in the historical series of international tourism since 1950.

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(Photo courtesy: 123RF)

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