Google and OTA’s- What happens next?
As Google continues to adjust its focus towards the travel industry, it becomes a larger threat to the revenue of the Online Travel Agencies such as Booking.com, Expedia and Agoda. Recent updates display how the metasearch giant has the ability to easily take business away from the OTA’s, and increase their influence within the online travel marketplace. A perfect example of this, is the recent addition of the exclusive travel discounts offered via the Google One Storage Cloud Platform, in which customers can access hotel and flight travel packages. Despite these incremental new features being small, they are sure to have an detrimental impact on the revenue gains of the OTA’s over time.
One of the largest assets of the search engine giant is its unrivalled ability to tap into the vastly loyal customer base and all of the cloud-based integrations to match. Google can give its customers a perfectly tailored travel experience from start to finish, thanks to it’s ability to gather data and distribute it to its customers through a number of channels. Example: Jane has a separate interest in the topics of travel and Yoga, which can be reflected within her search engine data. Google uses this data to serve up a hotel in Thailand offering a Yoga Retreat. Jane ponders this retreat, however at the time of viewing is too busy to pursue, and closes the browser. Interest is registered, and Google uses its own display network and Gmail advertising to pursue, resulting in a successful booking.
The Future of Travel
While Google is already the front runner for the flights metasearch, the focus appears to be on increasing the increasing the hotel metasearch share. This appears to be confirmed as more and more updates and additions (such as the aforementioned) quietly appear within the platform. OTA’s, hotel marketers and hoteliers will be poised to how this direction evolves given the size and ability which Google has successfully demonstrated. Currently the OTA’s enjoy travel search monopoly by their pay per click dominance, especially seen within the Google Search Network. However, should Google decide to aggressively pursue their own search network dominance, they could easily guarantee the number one spot for search results within their own platform.