Google is introducing a new feature that shows which hotels have special rates and policies for frontline workers dealing with the COVID-19 crisis. The feature is another example of how technology companies are adapting their products to capitalize on new demands during the pandemic.
Tourism has been one of the sectors most impacted by the coronavirus, with hotels and holiday apartments largely sitting empty as people wait in lockdown. Many hotel chains have been offering rooms for free or at massively discounted rates to doctors, nurses, and others working on the COVID-19 frontlines, both to support social distancing measures and help them stay closer to their place of work.
But it can be difficult to establish which hotels have free or discounted rooms, which is why Google Maps and Google Search will now surface hotels with pandemic-specific policies or deals.
Anyone searching for “hotels for frontline workers in London,” for example, will now see relevant results. Or you can simply search for “hotels in London” and then filter results with a new “COVID-19 responder rooms” option.
For this initiative, Google said it’s working with a range of partners, including the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) and Hilton, to get a direct funnel for hotels offering special accommodation. Although the program is initially limited to the U.S. and U.K., Google said it plans to expand it globally soon.
The company has launched a bunch of new tools and features in response to the COVID-19 crisis, including allowing advertisers to promote curbside pickups in their online listings, and it’s also now showing COVID-19 testing centers in search results.
Elsewhere, many technology companies adversely impacted by the pandemic have had to adapt. Uber, for example, is investing more heavily in its food delivery business while also betting on micromobility services — such as electric scooters — as cities transform their streets to accommodate pedestrians and forms of personal transport that promote social distancing.