Google gears up for international roll-out of Flight Search
Just two months after taking the covers off the first iteration in the US, other countries around the world will soon be getting the Google Flight Search product.
Google says the international roll out of Flight Search is “coming soon”, although it is expected to be a staggered launch in individual markets rather than a simultaneous unveiling across the rest of the world.
In his first media interview since Google announced its intention to buy ITA Software for $700 million in July 2010, former-CEO of Massachusetts-based ITA, Jeremy Wertheimer, now vice president for travel at ITA Software by Google, would not disclose an exact timeframe for the launches.
One option would be to begin with relatively limited functionality in terms of the cities and airlines covered by Flight Search, similar to how the US launch was introduced in September this year.
This would depend on any agreements Google is able to negotiate over the course of the next few months, Wertheimer says.
It is not known if the policy of only carrying search results from airlines will be used in other markets as it was in the US, once again excluding online travel agencies from participating in results.
But there are now also the first significant signs that other travel products are also being lined up for launch, with car hire appearing to be an obvious contender.
Nothing is off the table as yet, is the impression being given by Wertheimer, although in true Google fashion the emphasis is on “testing” and “experimenting” with ideas, rather than confirming one way or the other that a particular product line in the industry will be next on the list.
Other likely areas considered might be tours and activities or vacation rentals, for example, although Wertheimer declined to divulge precise plans.
How to address one of the most significant challenges with expanding Flight Search outside of the US, where the general perception is that ITA’s coverage is weaker, is still unclear.
Wertheimer says Google will secure partnerships with both airlines or “data providers” to introduce Flight Search in other markets, although he refuses to disclose any further details or if any of fare shopping providers or the GDSs (Travelport‘s ePricing or the MetaPricer product from Amadeus, are just two of a number of sources) will be involved.
“We will work with whoever we can in order to get the data,” he says.
Kevin May is editor and a co-founder of Tnooz. He was previously editor of UK-based magazine Travolution for nearly four years and web editor of Media Week UK from 2003 to 2005.
He has also worked in regional newspapers (Essex Enquirer) and started his career in journalism at the Police Gazette at New Scotland Yard in London. He has a degree in criminology and a postgraduate diploma in magazine journalism.