Roughly two weeks ago, Google teased a new “travel assistant” app to its roster of Local Guides (local review writers). The app is reportedly called “Trips,” and the following is from an email distributed to the Local Guides mailing list on April 21:
According to a post on TechCrunch, the new app will enable users to record past trips and plan upcoming travel, including flights, hotels, sightseeing and dining. Colorful screenshots (below) originally published on the Dutch site AndroidWorld provide clues about form and functionality. Among them, the app will work offline without a connection.
None of the screens I saw featured Google Maps, which I find interesting. Perhaps where directions are involved, it will send users to the existing Google Maps app. It also appears to include a recommendations feature.
Beyond this, Trips will apparently utilize Google Now’s ability to organize and present travel information from Gmail and Google Calendar. I asked Google about the new app, and the company offered the following general statement:
“We love to travel and are hard at work dreaming up new ways to make the travel experience hassle-free. While we do that, sit tight and keep on using our amazing tools like Google Flights, Hotel Search and Destinations on Google to plan your next adventure.”
Google’s various travel search tools to date have been largely unremarkable, with some useful or novel features. But overall, they’ve done little to really compete with established travel brands. The most recent Google travel property is Google Destinations, which appears in search results but offers limited utility.
From everything I’ve seen, the Trips app appears to be a nice mashup of existing Google travel properties and broader search capabilities. Indeed, Google may finally be consolidating all the tools the company developed since it bought travel software company ITA in 2010.
At that time, Google’s Eric Schmidt and Marissa Mayer said that the company wanted to create consumer travel products that “solve end user problems” and “look different” from existing tools. Perhaps Trips will finally make good on that promise.
According to the US Travel Association, spending on leisure travel in the US was worth $651 billion in 2015. So, in addition to the potential value of new consumer travel experiences, there’s a pile of travel marketing dollars chasing that consumer spending.