Google glitch is investigated

ELLSWORTH — A glitch on Google wrongly indicating that many hotels and inns are fully booked is being pursued by the head of the Maine Innkeepers Association.

Greg Dugal, president and CEO of the group, said he is looking for someone high up the food chain to contact Google and change wording that makes it appear as if many inns and hotels have no rooms available.

A search on Google for a particular inn or hotel – in Maine and in other states – often shows a box on the right with the words: “No known availability for these dates” or any other dates that searchers attempt.

“Google is not an easy group of people to know even who to talk to,” said Dugal.

Dugal said he has been in touch with concerned innkeepers – among them the Atlantean Cottage B&B in Bar Harbor.

A spokesman for the Maine Office of Tourism, Doug Ray of the State Department of Economic and Community Development, said he was contacted by a business owner and he advised them to get in touch with the State Attorney General’s Office.

The Attorney General’s Office said when contacted that it is the office’s policy not to comment on what investigations it is or is not pursuing.

Heidi Burnham, co-owner of the Atlantean, said she and partner Gary Rich discovered the Google-generated notice about a month ago.

Visitors searching Google for the Atlantean see a large box on the right side stating in faint letters that there is “no known availability for these dates” nor for any other dates the searcher might substitute.

“It’s really hard to say how it’s affected our business,” Burnham said. “If people look at it, and it says no availability, there is no click-through.”

She said she suspects the notice might be tied in with online travel agencies, some of which pay Google for all click-throughs to their sites.

Nancy McKechnie, executive director of the Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce, said she was alerted to the problem by the owners of the Atlantean Inn, but has not heard from other inns and hotels.

She said she sent an email to Sen. Angus King’s office and received a response back from the Maine Innkeepers Association, which included a link to a video Ben Walter made about the issue.

Jeffrey Anderholm, owner of the Bass Cottage Inn in Bar Harbor, said the same notice appears for his inn, but it has not affected his business.

“We’re having our best year ever,” he said of his 10-room inn.

Anderholm said, however, that the issue needs to be pursued.

Jacqueline Weaver

Jacqueline Weaver

Reporter at The Ellsworth American
Jacqueline's beat covers the eastern Hancock County towns of Lamoine through Gouldsboro as well as Steuben in Washington County. She was a reporter for the New York Times, United Press International and Reuters before moving to Maine. She also publicized medical research at Yale School of Medicine and scientific findings at Yale University for nine years.[email protected]

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