Google now offers airlines a CRS platform. Is this a Good Thing?

OK, this I didn’t see coming. Google just built its first airline CRS. Big G has worked with Cape Air to provide a reservation system,

‘That may not look all that different from other airlines’ systems on the surface, but Google says that there’s plenty different going on under the hood, noting that it was built “from scratch using modern, modular, scalable technologies.” That last bit is perhaps the key one, with Google further adding that the system is “built to scale to support airlines of all sizes.”‘ [Emphasis mine]

On many levels, this makes loads of sense both for airlines and for Google. The search giant offers server power and engineering talent on a scale unlike, well, just about anyone. And what better way “…to organize the world’s information and make it universally available” (Google’s stated mission), than get airline information (and, eventually, I would assume, hotel information and car rental information and…) directly from the source.

Further, I can imagine many airline executives (and hotel executives and car rental executives and…) drooling over the notion of letting Google do all the heavy lifting on the tech front. And the idea of the large players in the space (Sabre, Amadeus, IBS, etc.) facing further competition is a good thing. Isn’t it?

Probably.

The one possible downside here is that for airlines (and hotel companies and car rental companies and…), Google represents one of their largest advertising partners, too, with huge market share for search, display and mobile advertising dollars.

Giving Google access to all inventory, rate and passenger data could potentially lower distribution and reservations systems costs for its future customers. But it could also potentially cost a lot more for advertising, too, as Google learns more and more and more about these businesses.

Which is definitely something to watch in the coming months and years.

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