While the effects of this new feature will likely remain small at first, adding this capability to one of the largest travel-oriented websites in the world signals 3 longer-term trends hotel marketers must recognize: 1. Meta-search is moving to the mainstream. Along with Priceline's and Expedia's recent acquisitions of Kayak and Trivago, respectively, Google Maps adding air pricing reflects the increased importance of placing pricing and offers in front of consumers throughout their travel-planning process. Further, Google's aggressive move into the space only increases customer awareness of metasearch as a shopping and booking tool. Hotels must continue to plan for metasearch as part of their distribution, both through "traditional" metasearch players and through newer entrants like Google. 2. Maps matter to travelers. Google Maps represents one of the largest travel-focused sites in the world. Your customers use Maps (and other mapping services) every day to plan their trip. While Google's recent enhancement only adds flight data, it's safe to assume that's a short-term oversight (likely compounded by Google's limited access to supplier inventory in Google Hotel Finder). With recent changes such as enhanced Maps and the Google Local Carousel, the search giant recognizes changing customer behavior in search and is taking steps to remain in the forefront of the shopping/booking path. 3. Innovation is travel distribution is far from dead. Even some 15 years into the e-commerce revolution within travel, plenty of options exist to help guests find and book their stays. Maps may only offer air today, but that's likely to change in due time. As other players seek to disrupt the "traditional" online giants, expect to see ongoing changes in the channels offering flight and hotel data to consumers. While Google faces a number of challenges as it moves into metasearch in a more aggressive way, notably from regulatory oversight, the addition of metasearch data to Maps represents a likely first step by Google to move more deeply into the travel vertical. And, just like travelers, the company has started with air. But hotels can't be far behind. Read also "4 Reasons Why Google Metasearch in Maps Matters" at Tim Peter's Blog