Do Guests Search for Travel in Maps? Why They Will Now

Google maps flight search smallAlex Kremer on Tnooz highlighted the addition of flight prices to Google Maps earlier this week. To put it mildly, it’s a really big deal. A game-changer. For reals. I explain why in my Travel Tuesday post, “4 Reasons Why Google Metasearch in Maps Matters (Travel Tuesday)”.

One argument against this enhancement suggests people don’t search for travel on map services at all, so what makes this a big deal? Well, as I note in the post,

“I think it’s certainly true that people don’t search for flights on Google Maps. At least prior to today, why would they?

But once early adopters begin to gain the advantages metasearch has long promised, why wouldn’t savvy travelers search for flights on Google Maps? “

You can read the whole post here.

Interested in learning more about travel marketing and where it’s going — as well as lessons that apply to a host of other industries? Register to receive a special report I’ve produced in conjunction with hotel marketing firm Vizergy, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World” here.

And you might also enjoy some of our past coverage of these changes, including:

The Future of Travel Search and Mobile (Travel Tuesday)

Android smartphoneI posted my regular Travel Tuesday piece over on Thinks this week, highlighting remarkable comments made by Google’s UK head of travel about the where the growth in search volume is coming from. You can read all about it in this post The Future of Travel Search and Mobile.

Oh, and it’s worth noting that this shift will affect what you must do to reach customers going forward. If you want to learn more about how you can adapt to the changing realities of customer behavior, you can register to receive a free copy of my new special report, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World,” produced in conjunction with Vizergy, here.

What Google’s Flight Explorer Tells Us About the State of Travel Search

No sooner did I mention that Google will be able to explore lots of innovation and opportunity now that they’re free of regulatory investigation, than the company introduces its new Flight Explorer feature.

Google Flight Explorer screenshot

Just put in where you’re looking to go (the feature “auto-magically” determines your starting airport) and how long you’re willing to travel and the feature will show you the best flight options (best defined as cheapest) available to you.

At present, it looks like all the inventory is coming from the individual airlines, which they must love. Of course, the OTA’s probably won’t be happy. But it’s a fascinating move from Big G and one worth watching as we move forward.

Clearly, Google thinks this is an underserved way consumers want to search. I think they’re right—I’d have killed for this a couple of weeks ago while trying to plan an inexpensive getaway for my family. Google’s now free of the (immediate) threat of government involvement in their day-to-day product direction, which means this likely isn’t the last enhancement of this kind we can expect to see. While this one looks good for suppliers and competition for intermediaries, that won’t necessarily remain true for any future enhancements. I’d stay tuned on this front if I were you.

I’ll be exploring and explaining what features such as these mean for your business in the Biznology webinar I’m conducting January 15th: “It’s All E-commerce: How the Local, Social, Mobile Web Affects Sales Online and Offline”. We’ve still got some space, so register today and learn more about how all channels tie together in the social, local, mobile web.

Inside Google’s 2012 Traveler “Road to Decision”

Just a heads-up that I’ve taken a look at Google’s 2012 Traveler “Road to Decision” Presentation over on the main blog.

Loads of good takeaways. For instance, the report (and my analysis), looks at:

  • Travelers continuing desire to define value. This was a big topic of my presentations to NGCOA and to HEDNA earlier this year.
  • How leisure and business travelers prioritize search differently. This is new. In the past the differences between leisure and business were fairly minimal.
  • How mobile is driving increased search query growth.
  • Significant growth in both leisure (38%) and business (57%) traveler mobile access to travel information on the Internet.

Plus a whole lot more. Check it out.

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.