Google turns search into your personal travel agent

Do you daydream about your next big trip when you're browsing on your phone? Google has a tool for you.

Katie Collins

Google your bucket list on your phone now for hours of inspiration and fun.

Katie Collins/CNET

Armchair travelers, take note. Google would like to help you plan your dream vacation directly from within mobile search results.

The tech giant announced Tuesday that it has created its own destination guides intended to make travel planning easier. Include the word "destination" in your Google search query on mobile and you'll see a number of flight and hotel options, as well as activities based on interests you've specified.

You can use the feature to plan detailed itineraries for a region based on historic data from other travelers to those places. It will also let you play around with budgets, travel dates and weather requirements.

When it comes to travel, Google has been introducing features over the past few years to compete with the likes of Skyscanner to offer the best flight deals and for hotels. Its destination guides might be fun and useful, but they're also an attempt to replace the middlemen who make their money by guiding vacationers through the process from searching to booking.

Changes to search features are driven in part by what Google sees people tapping into its search bar. The company says that over the last year it has seen a 50 percent increase in the number of travel-related searches occurring on smartphones.

Mobile devices are handy for daydreaming during those in-between moments we find in our days, even if the small screen isn't the ideal place to navigate the masses of information out there. The destination guides will be presented card-style, with the hope of making information easier to navigate than in the average wanderlust-fueled browsing sessions.

The feature could also potentially benefit the airlines and hoteliers of the world. Many people use their mobile devices for trip planning, but that doesn't mean they will book that way.

Statistics from the Association of British Travel Agents in October 2015 showed that although the majority of people -- 91 percent of those surveyed -- had booked at least one holiday using a PC in the 12 months prior, only 16 percent of people had used a smartphone to secure a trip, down 1 percent from the year before.

There's a clear role for phones in trip planning, but there's also an opportunity to increase the number of actual bookings that take place. Google may be well placed to benefit from both.

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