So Google thought it was pretty slick, making its move when the eyes of the travel industry were on Facebook for its toe-dipping into the travel well. But friends‘ travel “likes” and Trip Advisor partnerships were not going to be enough to conceal the news back in July that Google intended to acquire ITA Software for $700 million. ITA collects flight, seating and pricing data from airlines and provides them to online travel search companies.
What’s ironic is that this time around, it’s the online travel agencies that are raising the hue and cry. They’ve pooh-poohed and condescended to traditional agents for years now, with statements that
“they are firmly on the agents’ side” and their role is to “support the agent.” And yet today, Travelocity, TripAdvisor, Expedia, Sabre Holdings and several other online travel companies have created the FairSearch.org coalition to try to block Google's acquisition in what they are officially
calling the "Google Problem."
Okay, now that we’ve had our little laugh at the big guys’ expense, home-based travel agents (as well as traditional and online) have to figure out what this means to the future of their business. Without going all Chicken Little and the sky is falling (as many did when Facebook introduced its travel features), this is something that could have some major impact on travel agents.
Check out this feature on Cnet that lays out the Google deal and FairShare’s position. Then decide if the sky is really falling or not.