Google reckons 2013 will be the year everyone loves what it is doing in travel
Recent developments at Google suggest its travel strategy is moving to a second phase – and now there is a promise that next year will see consumers take it to their hearts.
Whether such affection will be mirrored by the industry is another matter, of course.
In a lengthy blog post today, outlining some of Google’s latest moves to enhance the Flight Search and Hotel Finder products, vice president of travel Jeremy Wertheimer ends by saying:
“We think you’ll love what we have coming your way in 2013.”
It’s a sign-off obviously designed for Google users but also perhaps one to remind the industry that whilst some elements of its travel strategy have taken longer to implement than previously announced, 2013 will be the year to watch Google extremely closely.
Wertheimer’s post, for example, goes into a fair amount of detail about Google’s recent changes to Hotel Finder and also how it expanded to include some international routes out of the US for Flight Search.
But it is the other, non-specific product-related elements which perhaps illustrate where a large part of the strategy could possibly head to next.
The recent launch of the Explorer service shows that Google wants to get closer to the beginning of the so-called funnel of online travel, positioning tools at the inspiration phase.
It doesn’t take much to realise that when such tools are added to other services such as the content from Frommers and Zagat, maps and video, there could be quite a compelling fully rounded service down the pipeline.
Far less is understood in terms of how it all might play out strategically within the industry.
In an investor note issued today following Wertheimer’s post, Tom White of Macquarie wonders whether the growth of the hotel service, for example, could disrupt the existing intermediaries in the sector.
“On one hand, building out/integrating a global network of hotels would take time (particularly in the fragmented international hotel space) and would not likely be popular with either regulators or Google’s travel advertisers.
“On the other hand, Google is one of the few companies with the resources and will to tackle large projects such as this.”
Will they (consumers) love it? Difficult to say – it is, after all, hard to change travel search and buying habits.
But, equally, will the industry in general or certain segments hate what the Big G does next?
Whatever happens, 2013 could be quite a landmark year in the evolution of the Google Travel project – at least if Wertheimer is to be believed.
NB: Love heart image via Shutterstock.
Kevin May is a senior editor and one of the co-founders at Tnooz. He was previously editor of UK-based magazine Travolution and web editor of Media Week UK from 2003 to 2005.
He has 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, a postgraduate diploma in magazine journalism and will be publishing his first book - a biography about electronic band, Depeche Mode - soon.