How much threat Google poses to OTAs and metasearch?
Google was gradually ramping up the core services in the travel space with slow pace but it does propose an ongoing risk to online travel agencies and fellow metasearch engines.
Phocuswright recently undertook a major project with Jumpshot to cover four key aspects of the metasearch landscape in the US.
Unique monthly visits to Google Flights have more than doubled in two years between the first halves of 2015 and 2017 (it passed Kayak for the first time in the third quarter of 2015).
European hotel search brand Trivago (perhaps benefiting from its TV-heavy brand campaign in the US in recent years) is ahead of Google in Jumpshot’s index but, again, Google has overtaken Kayak this year. TripAdvisor is leaps ahead of Trivago but traffic also accounts for those visiting just for its reviews.
Kayak leads the pack in flights in the number of leads generated for partner sites (online travel agencies or airlines), yet Google has once again stepped up in the last 12 months.
Hotels are a different picture entirely, with Google maintaining a fairly flat presence following a fall in the second quarter of 2016. Yet, Trivago’s referrals are also down and Kayak’s are back where they were two years ago.
Google Flights sends most of its traffic direct to airline websites (more than 80%), putting it at odds with Kayak which tends to flip the other way and see around 70% of referrals head the way of online travel agencies.
In hotels, online travel agencies generally benefit the most from referrals in metasearch but Google has the largest share going to supplier websites (around 20%).
Referrals are one thing but what actually converts further downstream is perhaps the most important metric, with Google Flights the clear leader at a 25% rate and Kayak in the region of 8%.
Switch to hotel conversion rates and Kayak has leaped over Google this year to score a 9% rate, compared to 8% for its rival.
Google does, arguably, propose an ongoing risk to online travel agencies and fellow metasearch engines.
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