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Google and the Future of Travel 93

An anonymous reader writes "It's been one year since Google's $700 million acquisition of ITA Software was approved by the U.S. Department of Justice after an antitrust review. So what does the search giant's strategy in online travel look like now? Google's Flight Search and Hotel Finder tools have met with mixed reviews in recent months, but a new bit of analysis argues that the future of travel is not about search, it's about data. More specifically, Google wants to make available everything from airfares and restaurant reviews to maps and transit schedules, throughout the entire travel process. And it wants to use travelers' online behavior to serve up better targeted ads and content across all of Google's sites and services."
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Google and the Future of Travel

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  • by TechNY ( 2625421 ) on Wednesday April 25, 2012 @02:16AM (#39791853)
    I live in a part of world that has little limits on how you can advertise, sell your services and that has large structures for commissions regarding, well, pretty much anything. Want to take a ride somewhere? The driver will try to sell you anything. Instead of taking you where you want to go, or what is the best place for what you want to do, he will take you where he will get commissions from anything you spend. Be that restaurant or any other venue of entertainment. You can't ever be without thinking if you get good service, or if you are just used for making money. It starts to get into your head.

    For me, Google is largely the same. That is how they make money. I much more happily pay for a piece of software or service when I know exactly what I get, and that I get it good price without foul play. Google and other marketers twist this. Nobody has time to completely research or get to know what they buy or what's available. Those marketers rely on that weakness, and in turn you are getting screwed. Do you really want to be thinking all the time if someone is screwing you over? It sucks.
  • by krups gusto ( 2203848 ) on Wednesday April 25, 2012 @03:00AM (#39792025)
    this is an area where there's a market that I was really hoping google would bust into. All I want when booking a vacation is: - What's the cheapest flight to X. I don't care when or what carrier. This functionality used to exist. Then it disappeared. I never understood why. This was a killer feature on a variety of vacation sites. If they want to blow my mind, I'd cream my pants at: - Ability to search for cheapest flight anytime including taxes/fees and assuming one carry on bag. I'd even be willing to accept a 30s must watch video add with flashing lights if the above were offered.
  • Re:big is bad (Score:4, Insightful)

    by erice ( 13380 ) on Wednesday April 25, 2012 @03:21AM (#39792095) Homepage

    I stopped using Lonely planet for travel advice because everything they suggested was congested with other Lonely planet users.

    I think your problem isn't LP. The problem is that you keep going the same places that everybody else goes. There is no "Lonely Planet Effect" is Madagascar.

  • by ygslash ( 893445 ) on Wednesday April 25, 2012 @03:23AM (#39792105) Journal

    ...Instead of taking you where you want to go, or what is the best place for what you want to do, he will take you where he will get commissions from anything you spend... For me, Google is largely the same. That is how they make money.

    No, I don't think the people at Google are that stupid. They make their advertising money by being the biggest in search, and the only way they'll stay the biggest is by continuing to give the best results. It really doesn't make sense for them to squander their advantage for the few extra pennies they might get by skewing. And they know that very well.

    Google's business model is built on the assumption that the days of traditional Big Media are numbered. The way people get information is changed forever. Now you make money by being better at gathering information and making it available, not by "owning" information and selling it.

    But Big Media is not dead yet, and they are fighting back. They are using what's left of their hold on the public's attention to attack Google, and the concept of a free Internet in general, in every way they can. The amount of blatantly distorted anti-Google articles in traditional news media and on their web sites lately is astounding.

    Don't get me wrong. The old slogan of "do no evil" is impossible to sustain for a for-profit company as big as Google has become. They'll do whatever they can to be the *only* ones who can present information as well as they do. They'll push the bounds of privacy, as long as it doesn't risk causing their basic business model to be clamped down.

    But don't be fooled by Big Media into thinking that they'll be stupid and destroy their own business model.

  • by vought ( 160908 ) on Wednesday April 25, 2012 @03:27AM (#39792117)

    This is why Google's efforts lately have been received relatively poorly. People know that Google sees them as marks. There is no free lunch, and Google's products lately show a distinct lack of polish and execution needed to make it a one-stop-shop for "categorizing the world's information". People know Google is looking over their shoulders constantly, and their products aren't getting better fast enough to keep ahead of the free/utility versus 'leave me alone' curve for some.

    When you are getting something useful for free, that's great. But the value for Google doesn't extend to actually creating consumer-driven, best-in-class products. It's obvious to a growing umber of people that Google's products for consumers exist solely to create value for the company by gathering, manipulating, and selling their behavioral habits

    See G+(is that an echo in here?) or Google TV, which last I heard, might have shipped a few hundred thlusand units. See anything they've done in the consumer space over the past few years - it sucks and no one is using it.

    Android - a product Google has to pay other companies for because if all the IP conflicts and agreements - is successful but looks to have some pretty big and increasingly worrisome problems with forking. Google could lose control of it. And more Android users I talk to are pissed - I mean pissed - that Apple supports a three-year old phone with the latest iOs, but Google doesn't give a ahit enough to work with carriers to make that experience more valuable - to the customer.

    Read the article about Stanford's coziness with Valley companies to get some ideas why this brain rot is pissing actual customers off. Hint: MBAs and lots of smart kids who are pretty cocky have a lot to do with it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 25, 2012 @07:08AM (#39792905)

    I actually worked on an air fare search engine similar to ITA's and let me tell you - the industry is based on a 50-year old paradigm and 40-year old companies with their 30-year old traditions and procedures. Everything is meant to be easily filed on paper or dumb forms manually by people who are qualified to do just that. It is NOT meant to be easy to use or search through. There are no flights, really. It's rules upon rules upon rules upon rules. To get data on a single flight you need to query like 3 different international authorities. And even then a single flight that the user sees as a single price point looks like "If flying with company A from zone C to zone X on Wednesday or Thursday and you have a sopover in city Z for no less than 4 hours and your return flight is within 7 days, but not on a Saturday, then your price is $270 (without airport and fuel fees, which are calculated separately in a similar way), UNLESS you're accompanied by one or two minors in which case..." (I'm not making this up - in fact I'm simplifying it by an order of magnitude). And you have gigabytes upon gigabytes of text-based rules like that. And that's for a single airline. Heaven forbid if you try to combine a low cost fare with a regular one. Combining all possibilities and searching through that junk seemed to be at least NP :)
    So I sincerely hope that Google can kick some major butt and reorganize the airfare industry as a whole (not just searching), because it's ridiculous that airlines need to buy 3rd party software to figure out what their own damn fares cost after all the math and taxes.

  • Who are "they"? Google's text ads don't seem anything like what you describe.

"Don't worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you'll have to ram them down people's throats." -- Howard Aiken