A data dive into the power and positioning of Google Flights
The focus on brand and search is critical as it may be the primary means of keeping Google Flights at bay.
Google is such a massive player that involvement in almost anything has a ripple effect that fundamentally reshapes entire sectors. Yet, for all the hype, Google Flightshas been a relatively minor player in the overall online booking space. Until recently.
Over the last few years, the online giant’s foray into flight bookings has become a more substantial factor with a major impact.
If Google Flights continues to succeed, an expansion into the most lucrative side of the travel business may be inevitable, with signs pointing to the move happening sooner rather than later.
OTAs are hubs for transactions in flights, hotels, car rentals, tours, attractions and more and the ability to sit at the center of these transactions may be too much to pass up. Google’s move into becoming an OTA would be particularly interesting because it leverages a strength that the average metasearch engine has – organic search – with the capacity to own the conversion process more fully.
The metasearch sector may be the most vulnerable to a major rise by Google Flights. These sites rely on their status as the ideal cog in the connection between customer and seller – whether it be a hotel or airline.
The key may be in organic search and direct traffic. Companies like TripAdvisor drive huge amounts of traffic with a massive content base that touches on the primary needs a potential traveler may be looking for.
Others place a similar emphasis on their brand strength to increase direct traffic and the clear relationship with their customer base. The result is that a huge share of traffic for top metasearch engines comes from these channels. The focus on brand and search is critical as it may be the primary means of keeping Google Flights at bay.
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