Most don’t know (or take advantage), but you can find a hotel room and/or flight via Google. The problem is that both offer a terrible UI and limited functionality. It seems Google is ready to change all that, as they’ve agreed to license Room 77 software, which should help with results on both fronts.
Room 77 is a startup backed by Expedia, and is located in Mountain View — very close to Google. Bloomberg reports that several of Room 77’s staff, including co-founder and Chief Technology Officer Calvin Yang, are “joining Google”. The company will retain their “brand, websites, mobile applications, patents” as well as other technology. We assume this is what makes it a licensing deal rather than an acquisition, because staff from Room 77 heading to Google definitely sounds more acquisition than licensing.
This could put Google in a better position to offer on-the-go bookings, and situate them better to offer ads for online bookings. Priceline offers a much more lucrative angle for ads when it comes to travel, and Google is likely keen to keep their mantle as a top search and ad service.
Google’s current flight search results come courtesy of a $700 million investment in ITA back in 2011. Their hotel search results come courtesy of scraping, with both services being limited and sparsely used. It’s not yet known if Google will parlay this into a standalone travel app, but that seems likely at some point down the line.