The FairSearch.org coalition reported it has added several new online travel and technology members from the U.S., U.K., France, and Asia Pacific. FairSearch.org was launched in October to support competition, transparency and innovation in online search and is urging the U.S. Justice Department to challenge Google’s proposed acquisition of ITA Software, the flight search technology that powers many of the web’s most popular travel sites.
New FairSearch.org members are Foundem, a British search engine that offers price comparison for travel and other products and services; Level...com, a French online travel agency association based in Paris Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft, which operates decision engine Bing and uses ITA Software to power its flight search tool; and ZUJI, a Singapore-based online travel agency that operates in Asia Pacific countries.
The new members join existing FairSearch.org members Expedia Inc., and its brands Expedia.com, Hotwire and TripAdvisor; Farelogix Inc.; KAYAK, and its brand SideStep; and Sabre Holdings, and its brand Travelocity. Travelocity owns ZUJI.
FairSearch.org says the coalition’s new international members signal the growing concern around the world about the broader threat the Google-ITA deal poses to travel consumers.
“Competition in online travel search over the last decade has not only created more choices and innovation for travelers, but has also driven prices lower around the world for consumers,” said Roshan Mendis, president of ZUJI. “We are concerned that less competition in flight search in the U.S. will result in less innovation in travel search globally, and more importantly, less pressure on travel service providers to offer the lowest price for consumers regardless of where they are located.”
ITA provides the technology behind 65 percent of all online flight searches at airline websites in the U.S., and its flight search software powers six of the top ten air carriers in the U.S. Some of ITA’s most well-known U.S. customers include American Airlines, Continental Airlines, Hotwire, KAYAK, Orbitz, Southwest Airlines, TripAdvisor, United Airlines, US Airways, and Virgin Atlantic.
Today, Google is the source of more than 30 percent of all search engine traffic to online travel sites, delivering more visitors than any other search engine, the primary way Internet users navigate to U.S. industries online, according to Experian Hitwise. Google is also the dominant provider of online search, controlling more than 70 percent of U.S. searches, according to Experian Hitwise.