GOULDSBORO — U.S. Sen. Angus King’s office is in talks with Google to clear up wording that might lead people looking for Maine lodging online to believe there is, literally, no room at the inn.
When contacted by King’s office, Google changed one notice, “No known availability for these dates,” which appeared in a Google-generated pop-up box alongside search results for many hotels and inns.
Whatever dates were substituted, the same discouraging message appeared.
Google changed the wording to: “Check website for rates and availability.”
But then inn and hotel owners affected by the notice — it is not clear why some are generating the message and others are not —found another problem.
Searchers who click on the teardrop-shaped icon on the Google map at the top of the pop-up window are told: “The hotel might be unavailable for the selected dates.”
King’s office said Wednesday, July 15, that the dialogue with Google continues.
“Our office has been in contact with Google, who informed us today that they were in the process of making the necessary updates to the language,” said King spokesman Scott Ogden.
“We will continue to monitor the situation, remain in touch with Maine’s inn and hotel proprietors and engage Google until this issue is fully resolved. The tourism industry is a pillar of our state’s economy, and Maine’s innkeepers and hoteliers deserve to know that information about their businesses is being represented properly.”
One inn that led the charge on the issue is Acadia’s Oceanside Meadows Inn in the village of Prospect Harbor.
Owner Ben Walter said his business is down significantly over the same period last year and he believes the erroneous notification on Google is the culprit.
“This has been a strange beginning to our season in Maine,” he said in a letter to the Maine Innkeepers Association. “I would like to see a fine that would yield appropriate compensation to the inns across America that have been affected.”
The owners of the Atlantean Cottage B&B in Bar Harbor, Heidi Burnham and Gary Rich, sent out an email to fellow inn owners thanking them for their efforts, singling out Walter for special kudos.
“I still don’t think this solution is ideal,” she said of the Google pop-up box which also lists competitors at the bottom of each listing. “I’d much rather not see another business’s ad inserted into mine, and I’m sure you would all agree with me.”