Google’s airfare search destination Google Flights already offered a variety of features aimed at helping you find low-cost tickets, but today it’s rolling out one more: it will show you when prices are expected to increase for certain flights, so you can book before the tickets become more expensive. It’s also rolling out other tips that will help you shop for the best priced tickets among other things, says Google. In addition, Google Hotels is getting an upgrade, too, also focused on making it easier to find deals.
Previously, Google Flights included tools to see airline’s fluctuating prices, like a calendar view of fares, or ways to search for a cheap destination based on when you want to travel. It also could alert you price changes for flights you’re tracking.
The new version improves the functionality further, by also notifying you when the current fare is expected to expire, so you’ll know how much you can save by booking immediately.
If you haven’t yet selected a specific flight, but are rather tracking a destination, Google Flights will display a notification bar offering tips on picking the best route. This may recommend alternate airports or dates that could save you money, for instance, or inform you about when prices are expected to increase and by how much, based on historical data.
Google Flights can also send you notification emails that alert you to changing prices for either a flight or a route.
The new notifications are rolling out in the “coming weeks,” says Google.
The features are putting Google in more direct competition with the travel startup Hopper, which has offered one of the better applications for helping travelers figure out when to fly. Its easy-to-use interface lets you find cheap travel dates and flights in a variety of ways, including by tracking historical pricing data, price drops, and by offering suggestions on how to bring costs down. The company this year raised $16 million in additional funding to further expand into international travel.
Though Hopper is a mobile-only service, Google Flights began with a desktop focus. Today, Google says it’s better mobile-optimized, as you can track and manage your saved flights while on your phone.
And it now includes an integrated “Explore” tab that helps you figure out where you want to visit. For instance, if you know you want to go somewhere in the Caribbean, it could narrow that down to only those destinations with direct flights.
Along with all the changes to the flight search engine, Google is also adding more features to hotel search, aimed at helping searchers find the best deals.
Before, Google would label pricing that was lower than historical rates, or if discounts were available, but now you can toggle on a “deals” feature in order to only see these listings.
The service will now alert you to savings that are available to loyalty members on the hotel’s website, says Google.[gallery ids="1402413,1402410"]
These updates, of course, are rolling out ahead of the holiday travel season, and are now one of many ways Google is carving out a niche for itself in the travel market. The company also recently launched a personalized mobile travel guide called Google Trips, and expanded its travel inspiration resource Google Destinations to the desktop and to users worldwide.