We’re all used to relying on Facebook to keep in contact with people, link up with new friends – and even jobs – but now the social networking site has gone one step further, allowing users to book hotels directly through the new ‘City Guides’ feature.
In a bid to conquer competitors from across the internet, the aim of City Guides – which can be found in the ‘More’ menu beneath ‘Discover People’, is to assist users when they’re planning trips, offering personalised recommendations, based on where their friends have visited and the places they’ve checked into while they were there – including bars, restaurants and shops.
The move is a direct challenge to Google Trips, but City Guides adds another dimension by allowing hoteliers to benefit by displaying a ‘Book Now’ button, leading straight to the hotels’ websites.
Google Trips on the other hand, doesn’t offer booking features. Instead, it acts as a trip planner and a travel guide in one, including emergency information, transport information, and more. Part of Trips’ appeal is that it can access any hotel or flight reservation from your gmail account and customise offers from there (thanks to Google’s vast amount of information it can tap into any time necessary).
Work in progress
Google shouldn’t panic – yet. Currently City Guides isn’t quite fully realised and is being tested on a limited number of users. A Facebook spokesperson recently said that it’s “a redesigned surface on city Pages that showcases information (which)…already exists on Facebook.”
However, City Guides has some strong features that Trips doesn’t offer – such as showing you where your Facebook friends have ‘liked’ and their ratings if they’ve left a review. As well as this, it offers a list of ‘Places the Locals Go’ with comments from the locals about what they thought of those places.
In a nutshell, both Google Trips and City Guides are reselling information already offered to users, but Trips has the upper hand – by a margin – at this stage.
How can users book my hotel on City Guides?
The good news is that the process guests would use to book your hotel from City Guides is pretty straightforward. If your hotel has a ‘Book Now’ button on your Facebook page, City Guides offers a one-click redirect to a hotel’s site for a direct booking.
The advantage is that even if you already have the button, when City Guides features it, it will be seen by a larger audience. Plus, for hotels with a different call to action on their page, City Guides offers a tap-to-call feature, or opens a chat box.
For now, City Guides is one to watch, it’s hard to tell just how much it will be able to compete against existing booking websites – and it will be interesting to see if Google Trips launches a booking option too. Ultimately, its launch is a compelling reason to get your hotel’s Facebook page fully up to date to showcase what you have to offer – make sure you stay posted for further updates on this topic…