It appears as if Google is testing a new Local Maps display based on OTA (Online Travel Agency) pricing available in the area for the check-in / check-out nights chosen.
We noticed this morning that when you search in Google Maps, that the Inn's were not being listed with the little round Red Bed Circles, as they have been for years....
...but instead were displaying with the room pricing in little Blue Boxes.
In April of 2016, Google began using OTA pricing data in their Local Maps Listings.
I was unable to reproduce this after I originally saw it in my results this morning, as we wanted to teach it today in our Acorn University Club 60 Educational Webinar today, so many thanks to Lori at the Bluefish Bed & Breakfast in Harwich, Cape Cod MA 02645 for sharing the Blue Box testing snapshot above!
Bottom Line: Based on what we see in the snapshot, it looks as if OTA availability participation is about to pose an even bigger reason for Innkeepers to get involved in an Online Travel Agency program. If an Inn chooses to NOT participate in an OTA program, then their pricing won't be available for display, sorting, etc. in Google Local Maps, thus typically being seen below Inns that do participate in an OTA.
I just checked in our area (near Leavenworth WA) and the red dots are still appearing so maybe Google hasn’t added this area to the new “blue box” format. Which is good. Although we got on the OTA bandwagon about a year ago – truly a blessing and a curse for a 4 room B&B!
The blue pricing boxes look like how AirBnB displays it’s search results.