Few months ago in Harvard Business Review, I wrote that doing anything that Google or Facebook can decide to do may be dangerous for African startups. With their unlimited resources, they could run you out of the roads. Yes, as ICT utilities, these entities are the entry and exit points in the digital communities. That makes me wonder what happens now that Google Hotels will help us search hotels, book hotels and even last-minute ones.
Flying under the radar in travel news, Google quietly released its own hotel search and booking site last week. Aiming to compete with other hotel booking sites, as well as services like Airbnb, Google Hotels also offers last-minute booking on lodging.
In a blog post written on March 7, Richard Holden, Google’s vice president of product management for travel, wrote that one key benefit of using Google’s hotel booking site is the company’s well-known search functionality. For example, machine learning powers a filter to search for hotel deals. Plus, Holden wrote, “You can also view a hotel’s highlights—like a fancy pool, if it’s a luxury hotel, or if it’s popular with families—with expanded pages for photos and reviews curated with machine learning.”
The convergence is here and indigenous players like Hotels.ng and Wakanow must elevate their games if they hope to win in these largely commoditized digital businesses where what really matters is who can help me book a room in a hotel at the cheapest rate possible!