The lockdown has left everyone itching to travel but choosing modes of transport or booking a hotel is not easy anymore. The constantly changing COVID-related restrictions and the number of cases in various localities, increase the chances of flights being cancelled and many destinations stay closed. However, Google is here to help.
The search engine is accumulating coronavirus data from across the globe. It’s also adding new features to its travel tools that hand out pandemic-related information like COVID-19 case counts in a particular locality and whether the hotel allows free cancellations in case of emergencies.
The new feature “travel trends”, will show the percentage of availability at hotels in each area and flights in operation to that destination using data sourced from prior Google hotel and flight bookings. These will join the already existing travel advisory alerts on Google search. Aimed at ensuring safety, users can now find all key details to decide whether to carry on with the trip or take a rain check.
“The No. 1 question we are getting is: Can we travel safely at all? And we’ve tried to address that by including advisory updates in travel searches,” says Richard Holden, vice president of product management for Google Travel.
Destinations with soaring numbers of confirmed coronavirus cases are highlighted in red and are advised to stay away from. Earlier this year, Google had added coronavirus checkpoints and closed borders alerts to Google Maps, to help travellers navigate road trips. Google had also launched the Sodar tool to make the practice of social distancing easier.
For users who are still not ready to travel, Google allows planning ahead in time by pinning must-see locations on Google Maps and tracking flight and accommodation there.