Google has been showing live hotel prices within Google Maps for a while now. If I search for a hotel in the Latin Quarter of Paris, for example, I might see something like this:
Notice that the hotels each have a price, and you can click the drop-down arrow to choose whether to go to a booking agent (Booking.com in the example) or direct to the hotel's website.
But there is no price direct from the hotel's website. The only price shown is coming from Booking.com
That makes things a bit of a muddle. Given that the hotel's own site is listed right there, the guest is sure to go to the hotel directly, because they'll expect to get the best price there. And they'd be right. They can get a double room for €161:
With booking fee, the price on the hotel's own site is about US$229. That's $20 cheaper than the $249 price Google showed.
Even disregarding price discrepancies like that, there is a bigger issue here. Online travel agents are being used by Google merely as data aggregators (it is easier for Google to get a few feeds of data from a few online travel agents, than direct from zillions of hotels.) But Google is usurping the role of the travel agent. Searching, filtering, mapping, all that is being done by Google. The online travel agent is just showing a price in a set of seach results already produced by Google. Many guests will just use that information as a price indicator and go direct to the hotel, not the online travel agent. So the online travel agent won't even get the booking, but they give Google the data.
This hotel is already sending a feed of data to Booking.com and other online travel agents. They might as well send it direct to Google.
Google already accepts price data from merchants selling physical things (Google Product Search). It can only be a matter of time before Google starts accepting price and availability data direct from hotels who wish to provide it.
If that happens, will it be game over for the big online travel agents?