Google Set To Launch Travel Site
Google’s launching a new travel search site over the next few weeks, powered by airfare software company ITA.
Following its most recent major venture (the roll-out of Google Plus) Google’s new tool will provide map-based search, similar to Kayak’s “Explore” feature which allows travelers to visualize flight prices. TechCrunch reports that by leveraging its own popular Maps tool, Google could also allow customers to apply filters for destinations and price.
According to PC Mag, the move is being met with significant skepticism:
The Department of Justice approved Google’s $700 million ITA acquisition in April, but it is not without its critics. The online travel search industry rallied against the deal, arguing that the Google grab could result in higher travel prices, fewer travel options, and less innovation in Web-based travel search.
Google’s acquisition and use of ITA is not without caveats. Justice stipulated that Google must continue licensing ITA’s airfare search software to other sites on “commercially fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory terms.” Google must implement firewall restrictions to protect sensitive customer data and continue to develop and make available ITA’s next-gen InstaSearch product, which aims to deliver near-instant results for flexible airfare search queries. Finally, Google cannot enter into airline agreements that would impinge upon a carrier’s right to share information with Google competitors.
It’ll be interesting to see how travel sites like Priceline, Hotwire, Expedia, etc will react to the search engine they get the majority of their business from launching its own competitor site, especially when creating new flight search tools is at the forefront of Google’s efforts, not to mention the power of Google maps and other key features.