5 years ago

Google winding down B2B division at Frommers, travel sites need to find new content supplier

One area of the Frommer’s business that got little mention during the acquisition by Google last summer was the travel content service for other brands.

Whilst most of the attention was focused on what Google was going to do with all the destination content and guidebooks, dozens of travel brands and websites in other industry verticals (such as the media) were also wondering what was going to happen to their content partnership.

Frommer’s Unlimited provides licensed destination guides for desktops and mobile, event listings, images, cruise guides and hotel property descriptions to countless web brands, as well having a consultancy and customer publishing unit.

Partners range from the likes of Expedia and Hotels.com to British Airways, KLM, MastercardMSN Travel and the New York Times Travel section.

Six months on from the acquisition, and with still plenty of focus on the Google end of things, it turns out Frommer’s Unlimited is being scaled back as a unit.

The primary reason is that the acquisition was only a content play and the underlying technology for the B2B division was not included in the transaction and thererfore remained with Wiley, the previous owner which had spent at least six months trying to offload its travel interests.

This has left dozens of partner sites in a bit of a quandary as their contracts with Frommer’s Unlimited are not being renewed (some in April and the remainder by the end of the year) and they will therefore be without the destination information which many have used and valued as part of their SEO and online content strategy for years.

Two such brands, metasearch sites Kayak and TravelSupermarket, are known to be either no longer using Frommer’s material or making alternative arrangements.

Although a question mark remains as to whether new owner Google will eventually pick up the baton and continue the B2B content services in the future, letting the existing contracts expire and the gradual realisation as to what Google is doing with destination information appears to suggest otherwise.

This, therefore, not only leaves dozens (between 55 and 60 clients this time last year) of websites needing a new supplier of travel content but an opportunity for Frommer’s-type providers to perhaps capitalise.

Obvious big-name candidates which could supply such content on a global scale to B2B partners include Lonely Planet, Rough Guides and Fodors, with obviously a myriad of other, lower profile content brands such as ArrivalGuides and Columbus also probably keen to get in on the act.

NB: Google has consistently refused to comment on anything relating to its acquisition of Frommer’s or, in reference to our latest query, the B2B services.

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Kevin May

About the Writer :: Kevin May

Kevin May was a co-founder and member of the editorial team from September 2009 to June 2017.



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  1. Videovoyage.ca

    Our Travel Information System(TIS) is multimedia presentation of hotel and destination with most information. For each information about hotel, we have picture to confirm information. Our Travel Search Engine can search hotel from 250 criteria, the result is: success rate to find this criteria for each hotel, one icon by criteria find, click on criteria to see picture associate at this criteria to confirm information, if you want more information about this hotel you click on virtual visit. We have over 39000 photographies of 180 caribbean hotels, 80 hours of video, 1400 panorama(360), 220 hotels maps.
    For each destination we have picture/video of excursion, restaurant, bar, disco, golf, shopping center, museum, park,… We have XLM API version for this products in multilanguage. Recently, we begin to make 3D virtual visit of hotel for web page, androïd, iphone,… Similar to game, you can visit room, lobby, beach, pool,… Other new project is wikihotel for 200 000 hotels, this project will be available in production for 2014 probably. We collaborate with multilple travel agency group website and we would like start project to collaborate with Online Booking company to help customer for better choice.

  2. Fraser Campbell

    Ola is dead on the hurdles for custom content. How many ways can you write a review on a typical attraction. Custom content to a degree is an SEO game. The industry needs to realize just like what google is doing with search results. Everyone should see something different based on the many signals of that person. Time, place, who they are with, weather, lifestyle, etc. are all valuable. . The ability to use these multiple signals to discern the custom content for the individual is key. Getting these signals is one of the challenges and the business rules around the data to provide the content is paramount. Customizing the content for us has been a two year process. We just need someone with all the signals for the next step.

  3. Ingrand

    What is clearly useful for travel brands now is unique content and Google knows this very well!! This is what we do at EVG we create custom destination content for large travel brands. Fully agree Google is playing a smart long game here, travel is by essence Social and G+ strategy is concerned for sure. What is valuable and now more and more valued by smart travel brands in custom, unique content. Social content is part of the answer but not all of it. Brands needs professional written, engaging content. Brands need custom content that create value for its potential customer, information you want to share, story you trust. SEO is dead I hear, content marketing, in other word creation of useful content on various channel is the new SEO I believe. Conversion, organic traffic and reputation are impacted by the quality and amount of useful custom content a brand share. AT EVG this what we do, help travel brands create meaningful, high quality custom content in many different languages to grow conversion, engagement rates and organic traffic.

    • Ola Zetterlöf

      I totally agree with you there Ingrand. The key problems with custom content for most travel brands:

      a) COST – it is very expensive to create custom content

      b) UPDATING – how do you keep it updated? The pace of change when it comes to local POIs is just increasing and who wants old content? I guess you offer this service, but will just revert back to a)

      c) VAST NUMBER OF POTENTIAL DESTINATIONS . the internet era and lowcost travel have increased the number of potential holiday destinations immensely and at the same time travellers know less about the potential destinations when they find a cheap flight on e.g Ryanair. If you want to create inspiring, local and updated content with a large number of POIs, it will take a lot of resource (and, back to a), cost)

      It would be very interesting to see how EVG works with these issues.

      • Ingrand

        I have to say that I agree with both of you Ola, Fraser. Yes custom content became part of the SEO game as the e-commerce becomes more competitive and more social. The travel industry was a privileged witness of this deep consumer buying behavior transformation, tripadvisor brought review and changed ratings and reviews forever. Social Media boosted the need for trust-able original content. I consider this evolution as healthy change for the consumer and great brands, and yes content displayed should eventually be different based on “the many signals of that person”, but we are not yet there everywhere (are we even there anywhere apart from Google and FB…)
        Ola yes you are correct unique content is expensive, this is why you need a clear strategy in place and strict ROI measurement processes. You cannot create unique content for every destinations and POI in the world but you can apply the 80/20 rule. 80% of your business comes from 20% of your content probably, this is where you need to invest in unique content first. Same apply to languages.
        Yes content updates are complex and expensive, but again this is why you need to select carefully where you will create unique content and where you will only buy licensed content. You may also need to put in place an industrial process / strategy in place to optimize content production update cost and logic. To be clear we sell both, licensed and custom content for a very different use, we tend to specialize in multilingual custom content creation because we believe this is the most exiting part of content marketing and what stick to our back ground and values. We have started in the travel business and this is still where our heart is 😉 Licensed content is a service on your site, a facility for the consumer to access selected content, custom content is your story, your unique selling points, your travel blog, your destinations blogs, your videos…

        One thing I disagree you can actually write very differently for the same attraction and this is why blogging and UGC is so powerful, consumers ultimately believe who they can identified with, If you want to stick with your audience, the tone and the credibility is key. The little details no one else mention will drive trust and therefore conversion and brand loyalty when repeated consistently.
        However here I fully agree: “The ability to use these multiple signals to discern the custom content for the individual is key”
        So I come back to the content strategy behind the overall digital marketing strategy. The answer is not only custom or only licensed it is a mix of smartly selected licensed content, regular interesting and sharable custom content to support your story and your brand values and User generated content to add trust and credibility for your products. What is sure is that there is not one perfect answer and one strategy that fits all travel business! Content marketing is a complex game but it is definitely worth to seriously think about it to succeed in a very competitive e-commerce market. Not only for Google algorithm you need custom destination content it is simply a great way to share your brand values, unique selling points while creating long term online real estate for your site.
        Not sure if what I say makes sense and if it does not please let me know why 😉 Thanks for this interesting discussion and ideas.

        • Ola Zetterlöf

          Very interesting info Ingrand, definitely shows all the complexities in our business. This is one of the reasons it is till hard to get the travel companies on board. It would be interesting to hear from someone from the “other side” of the business, the travel suppliers.

          • Ingrand

            Exact this is a complex game and even-though principles can be applied there is not a set rule.
            Very few have a clear access and therefore understanding of the Google algorithm, the best thing you can do is try, measure and then drive conclusion. What is clear is that the way brands talk to their existing and future customers has greatly changed. The tag line , slogan has less importance, now a conversation needs to happen, interesting, precise, unique information need to be accessible, sharable. The more competitive the e-commerce will be the greater need for custom, unique and well targeted content, this is you way to differentiate your shop as technology is more and more accessible. What I can tell you is that the shift between licensed and custom content has started 2/3 years ago in the US and about a year ago in Europe. This is now accelerating as brands realize that their digital content is about their soul, again that does not mean licensed content is useless, it is simply an added service on your web site, not your core identity, story and USP.
            Good day; Eric

        • Fraser Campbell

          The travel suppliers response “We love it and it makes sense, but how much will this cost us? ” I think the mix of Custom and Existing content and UGC is the right way to go that can appease all the issues behind supplying relevant information to your customers in a timely matter.

          The Google/Zagat/Frommers combination is one to watch. Content scope and coverage always causes concern. Google Places knows quite a bit about the world and this is only getting better. Leveraging their small user base, Google’s approach of supplying editorial content and UGC should keep all Content providers on their toes.

  4. Andre Van Kets

    No alarms. No surprises.

    Travel was one of the first big e-commerce verticals to take off in the 90s. It will be a big driver for G+’s growth this decade.

    Not to mention the total ownership of the geographic + travel + activity components of the Knowledge Graph.

    Ouch. Google is playing a smart long game.

    • Rajat


      Yep!!! Travel–Tourism is going to be more biggest achievable e-commerce events along with it’s logistic components in the present world–lots of database with mature access on e-ticketing, hotels booking ,transportation, Guide & Other monuments or special places entry charges with quality smiled service with adequate knowledge about destination to carry an extra marks.

      Also we took this opportunity and explore ourselves across south Asia with the help of Google only.

  5. Fraser Campbell

    Kevin you forgot about Wcities as a potential supplier. We supply some of the top travel brands as well as auto brands. I would state though I don’t think Google is out of the business. Google has Zagat, and google is pushing the Zagat and combined Frommers option. It appears that Google in travel has only just begun.

  6. Martino @ The Travel Magazine

    Hear, hear, maybe this is our chance to diversify The Travel Magazine product! We have been focusing a great deal on B2C (and, in particular, on social: currently approaching 555,555 followers on Twitter) and have had a few B2B deals where companies used our RSS feed, but we never properly looked at content licensing before. Food for thought, thank you Google.

    • Ola Zetterlöf


      We provide digital content for a lot of magazines and newspapers, let me know if you want some more info on our solutions.


  7. Lucas

    we more believe that social content and place’s reviews are more usefull for travel brands – so if you’re looking new travel-content partner, please contact me.

    • Marco Carrillo

      Hi Lucas!
      I am the General Director of Mayan Explore. We provide all the information about Cancun and the Riviera Maya, that Mexico’s Number one beach destination , and also the preferred as a Wedding Destination.

      We give all the information about traveling to this area: information about how to get to Cancun, passport information, security, tips for travelling, information about the Mayan Culture, Cultural and musical events, specific information about the top places to visit in this area (archeological, UNESCO parks, shopping, tours, islands, cultural villages), tips for having a romantic, cultural , ecological or low cost vacations.

      I am wondering having a business relation with you.

      Best regards,
      Marco Carrillo

    • Marco Carrillo

      Hi Lucas,

      I’m very interested in talking with you about the travel-contents.


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