In Travel Search, The Other Shoe Drops
Today, Google announced the launch of its flight search product based on the ITA Software technology that it acquired earlier this year.
This announcement raises a lot of questions, such as:
- Will partners be coerced into working with Google Travel? (a la this blog post about the Forbes article, “Stick Google Plus Buttons On Your Pages, Or Your Search Traffic Dies.”)
- Can we expect that Google will preference Google Travel over other popular travel search sites? (Like Maps, Places and Shopping?)
- Will Google mix sponsored Google Travel results in with the organic results without identifying them as a paid advertising product? (Also like Maps, Places and Shopping?)
According to Google’s Inside Search blog, “our booking links point to airline websites only.” In other words, other travel search engines, like Expedia, Travelocity, KAYAK and Orbitz, are excluded from Google’s flight search results. Imagine that! Somewhat cryptically, Google explains, “We’re working to create additional opportunities for our other partners in the travel industry to participate as well.” Reminds us of a blog post we wrote back in February.
FairSearch member, KAYAK, summed it up nicely with this statement: “We’re confident in our ability to compete, and we believe our flight search technology is superior. We’re also pleased that the Justice Department has protected our proprietary technology and access to ITA’s technology, but we do hope that the government continues to closely monitor Google’s behavior as it continues to leverage its general search monopoly to enter more and more verticals.”