Travel analysis sites like Tnooz predicted in 2011 that the advent of Google Hotel Finder would revolutionize hotel marketing and distribution, changing every dynamic from accommodation searches to booking costs and from rate parity to preferred booking channels. This may have seemed a bit premature, given that the site hadn't yet worked out its kinks or been pronounced even moderately successful at that point. But now two years later, seeing Google Hotel Finder being reviewed as "one of the sexiest tools a traveler has these days," while acknowledging the complicated situation that the popularity of the site creates for hotels, the 2011 predictions don't seem too far off the mark.
But as for the predicted "mayhem in the industry"...? Hardly. At least, there are no signs yet of an apocalypse. The advent of any new product by 'Big G' always elicits a whole gamut of emotions in the fevered breasts of industry players and analysts, from anguished hand-wringing to breathless excitement. For those new to hotel distribution, it must seem like a death knell of the never-send-to-know-for-whom-the-bell-tolls variety. But hotels have been at the mercy of intermediaries since the invention of the call centre and while Google may present a giant challenge because of its giant scale, the nature of the challenge at least is familiar: control access to the market and you gain some level of control over the product. The mega bucks being expended by OTAs, meta search engines and - of course - the big hotel chains is testament to that.
Of course, as with any departure from the known, there were those who were - and still are - predicting the end of hotel booking as we know it. Fair enough. But who's to say that booking "as we know it" is somehow the pinnacle of the industry and not in need of the next big shakeup that innovation throws down the pipeline? Change brings conflict, yes. But niceness, neat edges, and order don't drive innovation. Conflict does. So perhaps a bit of mayhem in the industry is, in fact, in order.
Who knows what dreams may come when we have shuffled off this mortal coil of predictability for the bold adventure of change?