Google Travel unveils free cancellation filter and planning information

Worldwide: To restore confidence in travel, Google Travel has unveiled a number of new tools it is adding to its platform, including “travel trendiness” to ascertain the availability of vacation rentals and hotels in a chosen region, and a filter to mark out which properties have free cancellation policies due to the pandemic.

The added tools will be an extension to features that had already been announced by Google Travel, such as regional restrictions and advisories, airline fees for changing flight information, and Covid-19 counts in specific locations on a traveller’s route to their destination.

“Travel trendiness” have been installed to highlight the percentage of hotels which are accepting bookings and have availability, as well as those destinations which are easily accessible by flight from their closest airport. It is hoped that the addition of such features will help travellers “make travel decisions with confidence”, according to Google.

Secondly, Google Travel has set up a feature for holidaymakers to narrow down their search terms with a free cancellation filter, which will identify which destinations will offer free refunds in the event of an unexpected cancellation due to the Covid-19 crisis.

The “free cancellation” policy is expected to feature prominently on the Google Travel page in the main lookup box for vacation rentals. This is particularly targeted at those holidaymakers who want to stay in their own private space for a flexible length of stay.

Those features, as well as links to relevant advisories and local sources of pandemic-related information, will start to be rolled out within the next week before the end of the month.

An analysis of Google Travel’s trends page reveals that “Vacation ideas during Covid-19” was a trending search among web users in the United States and Canada over the last four months since the early peak of the pandemic.

With the threat of quarantine restrictions being applied at any time at late notice in countries and regions around the world, Google is planning ahead to keep users up-to-date with the latest information so they can better plan their trip with informed travel choices.

In February, it was reported that a group of travel industry leaders had requested that the European Union investigate Google Travel’s practices in an open letter, claiming that the website was unfairly displaying its own website over other vacation rental sites.