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News Google Flight Search, and what it means

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Google recently unveiled their new flight search capability, made possible by their acquisition of ITA Software. Check it out at http://www.google.com/flights.

This is the first glimpse at where Google is going with travel. A few key takeaways:

  • Google has been adamant that they are not interested in being in the middle of transactions, but instead want to focus on Search. Google flight bears that out. It’s a great way to search for flights, but when it comes time to book, they are pushing the transaction directly to the airline in question.
  • This approach validates why Expedia, Travelocity and other online travel agencies worked so hard to block the ITA deal. By providing a superior search tool, and pushing transactions directly to the supplier, Google is cutting them out of the loop. The consensus among those following this closely is that Google will start selling those OTAs ad placement, which may placate them a bit, and also generate more dollars for Google.
  • How long before Google targets other travel segments? Their Hotel Finder is already a slick hotel tool. When do they move to car and cruise? Then, what is the future for the long tail segments – vacation rentals, tours and activities, etc
Google’s approach to air  likely represents the new paradigm in vacation planning – use the Google search tools, but book direct. No wonder the OTAs are looking for new opportunities.

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