Power users have always used Google for everything, including travel. Today the vast majority of all travelers are using the internet for every phase of their consumptive cycle and it is no surprise that Google’s market share continues to rise.
Aggregating and creating content around your information niche was my method of choice for owning travel verticals. Well, the report that Google is planning on entering the travel search arena with destination-specific content pages changes everything. Or does it?
According to Rob Torres, Google’s managing director for Travel:
Torres says that the goal of Google’s travel division—aside from tapping into the $90+ billion global travel ad and sales market—is to give users a destination where they can research travel plans, read user reviews, and see user uploaded videos and photos. Already, about 50% of travelers use some sort of online social media site to research their plans, says Torres. Why not give them a one-stop shop for travel information? “We are already so highly searched for travel,” says Torres.
Kinda freaking scary? Uh, yeah. When the giant decides to do something, its lumbering actions often leaves swaths of destruction. You either anticipate or face a crushing change of your environment.
Try this address: google.com/travel
Today that’s taking me to a Google Advertising page entitled, “Solutions for Travel – Where to go, Who to Fly, Where to Stay?”
Today’s travel consumers are growing more savvy and sophisticated. Throughout the travel research and buying process they turn to the Web and search engines like Google to help inform their decisions – decisions on vacation destinations, flights, hotel rooms, car rentals, cruises and more.
The Google AdWords™ program helps travel marketers reach these consumers at all stages of the buying cycle – while they’re doing initial research, comparing specific options or getting ready to purchase. The result? Highly-qualified traffic, with increased sales and ROI to match.
Source: “Online Travel Search”, Jupiter Research (June ’04).
As I mentioned to someone this morning, DMO’s need to be in the content creation business. Now more than ever. When this new index rolls out about your destination, where will you be? If you haven’t created or at least encouraged content, then I’ll bet your sole existence on your destination’s Google page will be a sponsored link. But, since your probably already paying website publishers, bloggers, and Google to show your link, you probably think that same strategy will work here.
This thing has been talked about for some time now. Over at Google Operating System, a job listing for Google Senior Account Executive, Travel Vertical back in 2006 raised some interest about content aggregation and integration with Google’s existing services. More disturbingly for OTA’s, the question of vertical search for bookings was also asked. No wonder the big OTA’s are fumbling around for destination-specific content and relevance. Think of a Frankenstein-like Kayak–Tripadvisor function. More, more, more, more.
I’m glad I’m not the only one with a slightly cynical view of how Google will “help” destinations.