Google launching voice bookings for hotels

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Phocuswright founder Philip Wolf with Google's Richard Holden at the Phocuwright Conference. Photo Credit: Michelle McSwain Photography

LOS ANGELES -- Google is continuing to bolster its hotel booking platform, while concurrently claiming that it's not chasing after OTA share.  

On stage at the Phocuswright Conference here, Google vice president of product management Richard Holden said that the tech giant would launch hotel booking capability on its voice-activated Google Assistant product later this month, a move in line with Google's slow but steady encroachment on OTA territory.

"Voice is impressive," said Holden. "In terms of growth overall, 50% of our traffic is on mobile today, and 20% of that is on voice and growing rapidly."

While Google Assistant is closely associated with the Google Home device, Holden reminded the audience that the virtual assistant can be enabled across a variety of device types, including mobile phones. 

"With travel, we're very focused on the phone, because we think having the screen is an important part of the information flow that's coming back to the consumer," he said, adding that Google Assistant is currently enabled on more than 500 million devices. 

Meanwhile, Holden denied that Google was actively trying to become an OTA through its Book on Google product, which allows a consumer to book with a hotel, airline or intermediary without leaving the Google ecosystem.

"We're focused on driving value," he explained. "We're not about trying to create customer engagement in the OTA space. We're engaged in trying to deliver the customer to that OTA at the end of the day. "We focus on [Book on Google] first and foremost because we think it drives conversion rate for our partners. I think there's been some confusion about the product and some confusion about the name. You could call it 'facilitated booking.' At the end of the day, it's about ultimately getting that consumer through that process more quickly."

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