What does Google’s aquisistion of ITA mean for the travel industry? Jonathan Beeston, European Client Service Director at performance marketing company, Efficient Frontier takes a closer look…
Google’s acquisition of ITA software follows Bing’s successful foray into travel search in the US. (Bing’s features include a ‘fare predictor’ which indicates the cheapest time to buy a flight, based on price fluctuation trends.) Will Google become the next travel destination site?
Of course, there are still many questions to be answered. It will be interesting to see if Google will copy Bing’s style and include a flight search box at the top of the organic results for relevant searches. There’s no doubt about Google’s intent however, with VP Marissa Mayer quoted as saying, “We'll work on creating new flight search tools that will make it easier for you to search for flights, compare flight options and prices and get you quickly to a site where you can buy your ticket.”
Flight aggregator sites will be concerned. If Google follows Bing’s model, consumers will be directed straight to an airline or an Online Travel Agent (OTA), bypassing a flight aggregator’s site. This could make it harder for some advertisers to get to the end user via search. It’s less of a threat for OTAs with a broader travel offering, as reselling flights is a very low margin business.
As most sites use ITA’s data for flights, the success will be found who can offer the best user experience. Google’s hit-and-miss track record of launching new products doesn’t make them a guaranteed winner. If flight aggregator sites can demonstrate superior functionality, search tools and CRM tools, there’s still business to be won.
This acquisition should be seen as the beginning of a trend for Google. As growth in their core search business is losing steam, they need to find other streams of revenue. Display through the DoubleClick Ad Exchange is one, but vertical search will be another.”
by Jonathan Beeston
European Client Service Director
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