Google is a ubiquitous entity in the online world. Having a hand in almost all aspects of the internet has allowed it the opportunity to shape the internet. With their acquisition of flight information company ITA for $700m they have not-so-subtly announced their intentions of making a big splash in the travel industry as well.
This could have a big impact for many. On the business side, ITA has existing contracts with many of the existing trip planning companies out there that offer flight purchasing options to travelers (industry stalwarts like Expedia, Priceline and Orbitz all use information provided by ITA). Google said that the all things internet giant will continue to honor all existing contracts for its part, and it behooves them to stick with that as the Wall Street Journal reports that with such heavy advertising, online travel agencies “generate 8-10% of Google’s gross revenue world-wide”.
So, what does this mean for the consumer? This just gives another platform for travelers to search and compare prices for flights. Customers will be redirected to airline sites to book trips, unlike groups like Expedia and Orbitz who take the orders themselves. This could potentially remove business from these travel agencies in the long term, as these search engines circumvent them and bring consumers straight to the source.
In the end Google is providing a service which could positively impact an industry, one we have very close ties to. It will be interesting to see how this plays out with both consumers and businesses.