USTA: 39 Percent Don’t Want to Fly

Here’s a shocker: Flying sucks. And it’s impacting all sorts of travel decisions. According to a US News & World Report article that outlines results from a recent U.S. Travel Association survey:

“Lessening the hassles, said the U.S. Travel Association, could win back customers. “Our research shows that reducing hassle without compromising security will encourage more Americans to fly — as many as two to three additional trips a year — leading to an additional $85 billion in spending that would support 900,000 American jobs,” said Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association.”

The data is fairly compelling. Now, it’s clear that we don’t want to compromise security. At the same time, the challenging jobs market and stagnant economy could seriously benefit if it weren’t such a royal pain in the tuchus to travel. After all, the best hotel marketing in the world can only do so much if your customers aren’t willing to fly to your destination.

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Airlines force OTA’s out of Google Flight Search? Anti-competitive, much?

Something remarkable happened at PhoCusWright a couple of weeks ago. According to Travel Weekly,

“When Google’s vice president of travel, Jeremy Wertheimer, stepped on stage at the PhoCusWright conference here two weeks ago, he surprised many in the audience with his explanation as to why Google’s Flight Search results do not include links to online travel agencies.

If they did, Wertheimer said, the airlines would not participate.

“The airlines said, ‘We will not give you content if you provide booking links to OTAs,’” Wertheimer told the audience.”

I’ve written before about FairSearch and what it means for most businesses. And, while I’m not a huge fan of government oversight of individual businesses, nor, frankly, a huge fan of some OTA business practices, this level of coordination among the airlines and Google reeks of anticompetitive behavior. Actually, it just plain reeks, period.

While Google faces increasing competition for search from apps and mobile tools like Siri (see the Roger McNamee video), for better or worse, Google still represents the guide to the Internet for many people. And a guide that deliberately excludes some content providers due to competitive pressure from other content providers is no guide at all. As more details emerge around deals such as these, Google risks not only the wrath of regulators, but also diminished trust from consumers and businesses.

In other words, whether it’s antitrust or declining trust, Google and the airlines are playing a losing game. I’d expect to see FairSearch and others challenge this move in the very near term and the repercussions to continue for some time to come.