Google is updating its travel tools to make it easier for travelers to identify and choose climate-friendly options when planning their trips.
Rail travelers in and around Germany, Spain, Italy and Japan can shop directly in Google search for the first time.
“Would you like to swap the car or plane for a train? For some trips, taking the train may be the more sustainable option, but finding the prices and schedules to get from A to B may require some separate searches,” says Richard Holden, Google’s vice president of travel product, in an announcement in which he explains the need for the new tools.
For Germany, Google has a direct partnership with Deutsche Bahn, the country’s national railway. For the other three countries, timetable and fare data comes from Travelfusion for bookings with Renfe in Spain, Trenitalia and Italo in Italy and Japan Rail.
The ticketing option is visible worldwide but only for travel in and around these countries, with more coverage being added over time through partnerships with train operators, aggregators and third-party booking sites. According to Google, a similar feature for bus tickets will be added in the near future.
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Previously, Google only showed train schedules – not prices or booking links – for train travel, except in the UK, which last autumn started an integration with Trainline in Google Maps only, showing train options and the ability to buy with Google Pay.
Google is also updating its accommodation and flight tools.
Last fall, the search giant added an eco-certified badge to hotels that meet sustainability standards set by certain independent organizations, and a few weeks later added a carbon emissions estimate for results on Google Flights.
Now travelers can use a filter to limit the results shown to only eco-certified hotels and only flights with lower emissions than the average for a similar trip.
According to Holden, the company is working with organizations like the US Green Building Council and the Global Sustainable Tourism Council to improve the accuracy of its hotel certification data.
“Over time, we want to ensure that the environmental impact of your travel options is always part of the equation. And while we still have a long way to go on that journey, we believe these new tools bring us a step closer in that direction,” says Holden.
In August, Google was criticized for the accuracy of its flight emissions data. As a member of the Travalyst Coalition, Google helped develop the organization’s sustainability framework and is a technology provider that helps other platforms display emissions data.
Sebnem Erzan, Google Head of Travel Sustainability, Global Partnerships, participated in a panel discussion on the industry’s sustainability efforts during a session at Phocuswright Europe. Watch the full discussion below, which also includes Sally Davey, CEO of Travalyst, Danielle D’Silva, Head of Sustainability at Booking.com, and Cat Jones, Founder and CEO of Byway Travel.
Executive Roundtable: Making Sustainability Sustainable – Phocuswright Europe 2022