Competitors Accuse Google of Hijacking Air Travel Bookings

Google Flight Search"Google is abusing its dominance in internet search to sway the $110 billion online travel business in its favor," that is what online flight booking agencies like Kayak, Expedia, Priceline, Travelocity and Orbitz are accusing Google of after its newly launched Google Flight Search feature pushed agency links down the page and took customers straight to the airline site bypassing the middlemen.

Air travel peaks in the holiday season and after Google Flight Search came into being, most of the booking agencies have seen a decline in the rate of bookings as more and more travelers are turning to Google to find the cheapest flights. While Google had been directing flight searchers to the agency links, it now directs traffic directly to the airline's site and not to the booking agency. So it is not difficult to see what this hue and cry is over.

Airlines Find Google a Better Customer to Deal With

On the other hand, airlines that have long struggled to draw traffic away from online travel agencies, which charge airlines for every booking see Google as boon in disguise since online bookings made via agencies like Expedia, Priceline, Travelocity and Kayak cost more than $11 each to the airline against $1 each when booked on the airlines’ own sites. According to travel research firm PhoCusWright, in the last year these agencies handled almost a third of the flights booked online worth $17.5 billion.

Google's flight tool links exclusively to the airlines' websites and not to the travel agency website inspite of Google's assurance to "build tools that drive more traffic to airline and online travel agency sites," which was in reply to Orbitz and Kayak's opposition to the Google-ITA transaction last year but later freed Google linking to travel agencies according to a DOJ ruling. “The airlines told us that they would not give us travel data if we provided booking links to online travel agencies," Jeremy Wertheimer, ITA’s founder and now a Google vice president, said at an online travel conference last month only endorsing the Google argument. While we see online air travel booking agencies crying foul over Google’s Flight Search, people shopping for flight tickets have found it very useful and if competitors can't  find ways to direct traffic to their sites it is rather evident how much they have to depend on Google.

Google Puts Traveler Needs Ahead of Agency Demands

Countering accusations, Google spokesman Sean Carlson wrote, “When people come to Google looking for travel information, our goal is to show them the most relevant results as quickly as possible. The response to our new flights feature has been overwhelmingly positive, and we’re continuing to focus on developing and delivering the best possible experience for our users.” Though Google's tool is still limited to only domestic flight searches, we are sure to see international routes being added pretty soon.

Google, now has stepped into the business of online music to local coupons to mobile phones and has voluntarily or involuntarily stepped on the shoes of existing players who now see Google as a competitor.

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Google Flight Search, Google Flight Booking , Googe Flight Tool, Airline Booking, SEO News, Google

About Vijay Ganesh

Vijay Ganesh I am Vijay – a SEO Strategist – who is explorative, loving, carefree, (only as much as I can be!) and a perfect professional, the way most days turn out to be. Evolving, with the demands of time and the Social Media platforms for the last 3 years, work is as much fun and sport as anything can be as I can’t be anything else than that what I am naturally tuned to be at I have been constantly probing, pickering and growing with what I learn to stay a step ahead media trends and techniques to deliver the best I .... more info