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:
- Google Maps
- Southwest Airlines
- Bing Maps
- Yahoo Maps
- 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.
- 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.
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.