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Published on Monday, July 5, 2010

Google is a huge threat, warns online expert


Travel intermediaries like Travelsupermarket and Expedia are being warned to rethink their business models now Google seems poised to move into the UK travel market.

Andreas Pouros, a search marketing specialist who advises companies on ways to improve their online presence, said Google's acquisition of travel technology company ITA Software was a clear threat to UK-based travel comparison websites.

ITA's data, which includes up-to-the-minute flight availability and fares, will allow Google to show users where to find the best deals.

"Travel intermediaries should be very concerned as Google moves towards becoming central to consumers’ travel purchasing behaviour," said Pouros.

"It is only a little over seven months ago since Google made a similar move with property intermediaries.”

Just as Google now features houses for sale or to let on Google Maps by allowing property portals to load their listings free of charge, it will be able to use ITA's data to tell users where to find the best flights.

While initially Google is likely to use the data to drive traffic to travel websites, there is a danger that ultimately it will start to sell seats direct to the consumer. 

"Travel intermediaries should at the very least be determining how they should operate in the next few years," added Pouros, chief operating officer of Greenlight, an independent search marketing agency.



By Linsey McNeill


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  • Is this not what consumers need?

    Surely, a true travel comparison site that gives the consumer truly available holidays with the price displayed as the price to book is the way forward? No doubt Google would also feature reviews of the travel business by client satisfaction ratings, a key feature other portals refuse to feature as they are running scared of the advertisers. Long overdue in my view and something we have been recommending for years. Bring it on! Good for consumers and even better for advertisers that feature value instead of holidays that don't exist at the price advertised.

    By Kenny Picken, Monday, April 8, 2019

  • Up their game

    I agree with Esteban, the more established players may well survive and prosper but only if they up their game.......and quickly

    By Kenny Picken, Monday, April 8, 2019

  • If you are not different enough..

    If you do not have a relatively unique or more complicated product, if you do not have a good branded name, if you do not give clients a good reason to travel with you other than you are simply cheaper, if you are not a real tour operator acting as a principal, .. then it will be hard when Google gets its act together. It will be very easy for Google to compete against companies that rely on simple business models, even though thye may have good technology.

    By Nick Cooper, Thursday, July 15, 2010

  • Still not all content in one search

    Currently, ITA QPX does not support LCC and consolidator fares AND this content is very important for the on-line travel agencies in Europe. What the European travel agencies should be doing is looking for solutions that will help them minimize costs associated with GDS power searches, or those associated with data access to different types of content. Let's not forget that IBEs currently on the market have to do 2-3 simultaneous entries in order to obtain multiple content types, e.g. GDS fares, LCC, and consolidator fares. There are however new technologies coming out which allow such complicated searches to be done with 1 hit, finding the best possible price for the customer even if it includes different content in the same itinerary. Its these types of technologies that the OTAs should be looking at they they want to continue to provide the best possible options to their customers, and continue to have a competitive edge in the face of Google/ITA.

    By Boyan Manev, Wednesday, July 7, 2010

  • Google / ITA - Good for Who ?

    Airlines own their inventory and the most sophisticated deploy controls to ensure the inventory is made available to those channels and customers they wish to see this availability. ITA can do nothing if these airlines do not participate and give their 'data' flight schedules, published fares do not define availability they are hygiene factors for performance. The reality is that journey controls are becoming much more widespread. ITA fundamentally understand this and, if the deal goes ahead, Google will too. Google are experts in location based services (read point of sale control) and could provide airlines with weapons to battle the yield erosion caused by transparency on the web. One the regulator will want to understand allowing the application of rigorous controls for sale will Google be improving the customer experience or the airlines revenues .. ...the illusion of transparency ! This is a most interesting purchase

    By Richard Clarke, Wednesday, July 7, 2010

  • User-Generated Content

    Isn't this where user-generated content comes into its own?

    By Terry Jackson, Tuesday, July 6, 2010

  • Easier said than done

    ITA has great technology but the issue of "data access" remains for them like for anybody else. Google will be able to access individual product Published fares, hotels, car rental and the likes from major suppliers, but what about the data of smaller suppliers, specialist and tour operators from the various markets worldwide?

    By Roberto Da, Tuesday, July 6, 2010

  • Yes, they will...

    Yes, they will and they have. It's call Google Places.

    By Terry Jackson, Monday, July 5, 2010

  • reliance on search engines

    The biggest threat will be to websites heavily relying on Google for their traffic. The problem is, this is mostly the case with smaller players who may have a great product but no marketing budget. They invest in building the content and optimising the pages for Google, but not in advertising, PR or affiliate marketing. If they loose traffic from Google, they may loose in some case up to 75% of their visitors. So, for them, it will be either pay for keywords or close the shop. Is this good news for consumers? Not necessarily. In the recent years we have seen several new price comparison engines being set up and none of them had any real differentiation. Will Google be yet another me-too search engine or will they use their technological superiority and huge content database to build something revolutionary?

    By Martino Matijevic, Monday, July 5, 2010

  • A threat to who?

    Disintermediation was set to benefit consumers and tourism businesses since w3 was conceived. It's simply been a long time coming and whilst high street travel agencies have done well reinventing themselves online, the business model was always under threat and no one should be surprised. Google's stunning ability to put tourism consumers directly in touch with independent tourism providers means it's the latter that should up their game, not the intermediaries.

    By Terry Jackson, Monday, July 5, 2010

  • Exciting times

    If anything this will hugely benefit passengers and travel agencies by offering true real time fares, an issue which many comparison sites have and frustrates potential customers. The likes of Travel Supermarket will need to dramatically improve in order to survive in such a competitive environment.

    By Esteban Martinez, Monday, July 5, 2010

  • Google is not a direct competitor!

    Google has made it very clear that they will not jump directly into the consumer sale model, but definitely the threat arises to meta-search engines like Kayak, cheapflights, mobissimo, who are into fare comparison model. The user base on their sites are definitely going to affect and they need to come up with new business modeling to gain user presence. Google will not allow to affect the revenue model from Expedia, travelocity, orbitz, by making them direct competitor's and decline their advertisement revenue with Google ad networks. But for sure, we are going to experience something very huge in the recent time. Google will have a very clear landscape for their travel business and ITA acquisition and will definitely try to penetrate the market to make it more centralized and attracting more users. We might have to wait for more one or two quarter's to judge Google's move on Travel industry. I am sure at the end user's are going to be benefited.

    By Shreepal Shah, Monday, July 5, 2010

  • Google Threat

    Definitely a huge threat. Google will not only have access to fares, schedules and availability but the way the results are presented. Based on the way it already uses universal search to direct searchers to chosen channels don't be surprised if the comparison sites are deemed an unnecessary distraction.

    By David Burdon, Monday, July 5, 2010

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