Just a month or so afterÂ finally unleashing its long awaited service,Â traffic was understandably a bit on the low sideÂ butÂ Google was quite rightly enjoying the positive reaction to the speed in which GFS was returning results.
In an interview after his keynote, Google vice president for travel, Jeremy Wertheimer, was enthusiasticÂ about where it was all going, even talking about how other travel products would be considered, such as car rental, vacation rentals, and tours and activities.
Most importantly for those outside of the US who were wondering when the service would branch out, he saidÂ the international roll out of Flight Search was “coming soon”, although it was expected to be a staggered launch in individual markets rather than a simultaneous unveiling across the rest of the world.
This was not just the addition of some international routes from US citiesÂ (which eventually came in May this year), but the ability for users to search for tickets to and from non-US cities.
The “coming soon” comment, however, has been hanging around the neck of GFS ever since, simply because travellers looking for those tickets are still, well, having to look elsewhere.
One year on, then, Wertheimer was back on-stage at PhoCusWright, talking about the pivot points in the travel industry, at least in terms of how Google sees it: speech recognition, mapping, geographical information.
No mention of pivots in airfare distribution, then.
When asked by Cheapflights boss Hugo Burge about an apparent lack of progress in GFS, Wertheimer has clearly shifted his position from last year.
Now it’s all about considering such expansion “cautiously”, he says, adding that “new features” are coming on-stream rather than wholesale opening up the service to new audiences.
“International expansion requires working with partners,” Wertheimer adds, “and to do thatÂ requires time in the airline space.”Â Furthermore, growing internationally is “a long game” and Google spends lots of effort “scientifically looking at things”.
When pressed further by Burge during the panel discussion, Wertheimer adds:
“We were keen on getting something out quickly [for the original launch], but now we’re working carefully.”
So that’s that. Quite a change in thinking.
NB: Google declined to speak directly to Tnooz.