From showing flight and hotel listings above competitors in Search to releasing a trip-planning app, Google is making increasing forays into the travel industry. While Google has denied to Bloomberg that it’s becoming an online travel agent, entrenched players are expecting more direct competition.
Google argues that its travel-related features are only intended to provide more information to travelers. With its huge corpus of data, the company can be proactive and send travel bargains ahead of time based on a user’s search history. Google’s Travel and Shopping VP Oliver Heckmann notes that other services simply cannot do this themselves.
Other features include purchasing tickets directly from airlines through Google without having to visit a third-party site. Another partnership already allows consumers to book hotels in a similar fashion, with payment details already filled out if Google has a credit card on file. The company cites convenience and speed for the existence of such features.
Google risks angering top 10 search advertisers, like Expedia and Priceline, who spend more than $1 billion a quarter to get customers to directly visit their sites. In retaliation, these companies might increasingly advertise on Facebook. The fear from Expedia and Priceline is that such directness would make it harder for them to create a customer relationship to sell additional services, like car rentals.
Besides gaining another revenue stream, Bloomberg speculates that Google’s moves into this space are due to digital assistants changing how travelers research and book travel online.