WebRotation: Lasso hotels with Google Hotel Finder

Google’s Hotel Finder experiment has a superb innovation: drawing shapes of target areas.

The service is still rough, with good details on pros and cons (and more expertise than The Rapid Traveler has) at excellent blog Frequently Flying, and also at USA Today.

The shapes tool is a refreshing change from the zip codes and pre-set neighborhoods of other services. In dense cities like New York, where a few blocks can make a huge difference in location desirability, these services struggle. To illustrate, let’s revisit yesterday’s post on hotels with a view in Jersey City, NJ.

A search on a popular site like Kayak for Hoboken jumbles Hoboken hotels with Manhattan hotels. The location refinement tool is a distance-based radius that at 1 mile excludes the Newport area hotels but at 2 miles scoops in a chunk of Manhattan.

KayakHobokenThe perfect situation for Google:

GoogleHotelFinder1

GoogleHotelFinder2From there, it is easy to zoom in on the candidate list, cutting out the unwanted noise.

Verdict: the hotel booking experts say Google Hotel Finder has a long way to go to graduate from experiment to robust tool, but already the shapes tool is a great aid in identifying preferred hotels, particularly in dense areas such as Manhattan, the Las Vegas strip or beaches. How many hotels in the world claim to be on a beach when the reality is somewhat different?

(Disclaimer: The Rapid Traveler uses many of Google’s services but has no financial relationship with Google, and will not receive any commission or other consideration for this review.)

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