How is Google Flight Search performing so far? Go on, have a guess


In the original story we forgot to mention that other site attempting to stake a claim as a disruptive influence on the travel search sector – Hipmunk.

Over a year since its high-profile launch, Hipmunk, in the overall travel category, stands in position number 974.


An extraordinary amount of interest in September when Google finally launched its long-awaited Flight Search product, five months after securing approval for buying ITA Software.

So, three weeks since Flight Search was unveiled onto consumers (and a curious/terrified industry), how is the search giant’s first foray into travel metasearch doing?

Audience measurement service Experian Hitwise has given Tnooz some figures to gauge where Flight Search sits alongside other web travel brands in the industry.

Important caveats coming up:

  • Figures are for online market share during the entire month of September 2011, Google Flight Search launched on Tuesday 13 September.
  • Only US at this stage, where the early version Google Flights is focused.
  • Flight Search only shows roundtrip fares from major airlines to a limited number of US cities. In other words, not a fully formed product.
  • The product is not fully “unleashed”, meaning that it is not integrated with existing flight-related searches.

But, regardless, Flight Search is the first iteration of a major new travel initiative by a big web player (the biggest, arguably).

Tnooz publishes Hitwise market share data for the top ten travel websites in the US on a weekly basis, covering three categories: agencies (or intermediaries), destination and accommodation sites, and airlines. Hitwise also supplies travel-related search term rankings in the same deck.

The entire travel category in the US includes hundreds of travel and “travel”-related websites, but in September 2011 was led by the following top ten sites:

  1. Google Maps
  2. Mapquest
  3. Expedia
  4. Southwest Airlines
  5. TripAdvisor
  6. Priceline
  7. Bing Maps
  8. Yahoo Maps
  9. Orbitz
  10. Yahoo Travel

It is a bit unclear – depends on who you ask – which sites will be Google’s closest rivals in the travel sector, but like-for-like travel metasearch players alongside it include Kayak (probably the most vociferous of the web companies campaigning against Google’s entry into travel), Bing Travel, Farecompare and Mobissimo, amongst others.

So where do they and Google Flight Search sit in the list of travel websites?

  • Kayak – 17.
  • Bing Travel – 30.
  • Farecompare – 111.
  • Mobissimo – 1,359.

And Google?

  • Google Flight Search – 391.

Hitwise says in the initial first week after the product’s launch (coinciding with when not just travel-related media sites, but almost every mainstream and tech service had something to say) there was a “big uplift” in market share, but this has tailed off and it has not seen “exponential growth” in the following two weeks.

Recall the caveats – very early days, not fully formed or integrated. But given the marketplace buzz (no pun intended), worthwhile reproducing.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInEmail to someone
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.



Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Steve Reynolds

    John makes a good point. I would put Google’s hotel finder in the same category. Would be nice to track the progress relative to other related sites.

  2. Daniele Beccari

    Kevin – why don’t you plot the week-by-week progress of Google Flights somewhere?

    • Kevin May

      Kevin May

      @daniele – i think month-on-month would be useful. And not try the patience of my contacts at Hitwise 🙂

  3. John McAuliffe

    Would be interesting to also know how Google’s Hotel Finder “experiment” is ranking – any chance we can get that data?

    • Kevin May

      Kevin May

      @john – not as yet i’m afraid. We’re working on it though. 🙂

  4. Steve Reynolds

    For some reason, I keep hearing the theme from Jaws playing in my head when I read about Google flights. Any prediction on where it will be in six months? My bet is a top 20 travel site, possibly just breaking into the top 10.

  5. Timothy O'Neil-Dunne

    Murray – You need to translate for the same Colonial Cousins otherwise they wont get the analogy!

  6. Murray Harrold

    Always remember the caveats, eh? Early days… wrong sort of wind … not enough chips at McDonalds… I don’t think the industry was “terrified” – mildy bemused, perhaps, but not terrified. Well, not yet awhile.

    It is interesting though – take the analogy: If TESCO (translation for our colonial cousins: Wallmart) start selling widgets, then there is bound to be a reasonable sale of widgets because of who and what they are.

    It is mooted that the intention of Google going into travel had nothing to do with wanting to get into travel (as has been dicussed, passim, at some length). That said, if this is what Google have come up with, it’s a bit of a gib gnab.


Newsletter Subscription

Please subscribe now to Tnooz’s FREE daily newsletter.

This lively package of news and information from Tnooz’s web site provides a convenient digest of what’s happening in technology that drives the global travel, tourism and hospitality market.

  • Cancel