Google Places Bug Loses Major Hawaii Hotel

Filed in Featured, Google, Local Search by Matt McGee on August 9, 2011 6 Comments

google-places-logoGoogle Places seems to have lost a certain resort in Hawaii. But it’s only missing if you live in certain places. Like mine. And David Mihm’s. And Mike Blumenthal’s. And maybe yours, too! If you search for this hotel by name in Google Places, you might end up with a real estate agent ranking first, or maybe the local zoo or a vacation rental portal. If you want to play along, here’s how:

1) Go to http://www.google.com.

2) Search this exact phrase:

Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort

You’re still in the main Google.com results, so…

3) On the left side, click “More” then click for “Places” results.

What do you see?

If you’re me, searching with your location set to Kennewick WA, you get a Kennewick real estate agent as the top and only Places listing. (Actually, I’m not sure that’s really a local agent. Never heard of him myself.)

google-places-bug1

Isn’t that the strangest thing???

Actually, it might not be. If you’re David Mihm, or if you just use Google’s “change location” option on the left and set it to Portland OR, your first and only Places result is the Oregon Zoo.

google-places-bug2

If you’re Mike Blumenthal — or if you just change the location setting to Buffalo, NY — your first and only Places result is some kind of vacation rentals portal (which is in the same ballpark as the missing Hilton, at least).

google-places-bug3

Even Stranger: It All Depends On Where You Live

The strangest thing is that this bug isn’t close to being consistent. Whether you get a strange Places result (or none at all) depends on where you’re searching from, or what location you set. In my testing over the past couple days, these cities didn’t produce a screwy Places result:

  • Topeka, KS
  • Harrisburg, PA
  • Columbus, OH
  • Reno, NV
  • Jacksonville, FL

Those cities don’t actually show any Places results for the hotel. Plenty of other cities are showing bizarre results like the screenshots above.

But All Is NOT Lost

This Hilton hotel might be lost in the Google Places search results, but it’s doing just fine, thank you very much inside Google Maps. Run the same search from maps.google.com and you get what you’re looking for.

google-maps-hilton

In any case, this is one of the more bizarre bugs I’ve seen in Google search results. When a local real estate agent, a zoo, or anything else shows up as the only Google Places search result for the hotel’s name, something’s gotta be messed up underneath the hood.

Comments (6)

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  1. Chris says:

    You’re sure the Hilton Waikiki isn’t located inside Mall of America?

    Yeah, that’s what I get. (on a side note – the first descriptive phrase under Mall of America’s listing? “lame” – ouch!)

  2. John Audette says:

    Try searching from Seattle. Funniest results yet!

  3. Will says:

    Maps and Places seem to be out of sync.. kinda like syncing your iphone using with a iTunes on your newish computer.. you kinda have the same stuff.. but not really? its out of order.. some stuff isn’t there.. some is..

  4. Angie says:

    Google places was formed to supply users with the most relevant local information. If you perform a search within a certain city (in this case, a hotel that’s nowhere near where the search is being performed), shouldn’t the results be for businesses within that city? For example, when I searched “Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort” from St. Louis, the first result shown in Google places was for Majestic Travel – that makes sense to me. I mean, yeah I didn’t get the actual Hilton Hotel in Hawaii, but why would I? I’m not in Hawaii, i’m in St. Louis. I should get a company located within St. Louis in the local results. When I change my location to “Hawaii” and perform the same search, I actually get the Hilton hotel place page.

  5. Joseph Young says:

    Mall of America… How Funny. Bugs in Hawaii, not so funny.

  6. Kate says:

    Ouch! Amusing results, but maybe less so if your income depends on being found online! Shows that you do get what you pay for with these free resources – Facebook has just broken a bunch of functions our client campaigns need for this week. Coders, huh ;)

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