Much is being written about Google’s recent purchase of ITA Software. ITA created the travel booking engine many corporations and online travel websites use. The thing that makes ITA different is that it uses direct connections to suppliers rather than going through the GDS systems like Sabre and Apollo. The GDS systems are extremely expensive for the suppliers and are quite limiting because the software was written 20 or so years ago.
While Google getting into the travel business is indeed a big deal, there is another aspect to consider. I stumbled upon an article on CNN written by Mashable’s Pete Cashmore that really caught my eye. Cashmore says Google is also working on a creating a social networking site similar to Facebook. Wow! Combining a Google booking engine with a Facebook style social network has huge ramifications. Think about the combination of a social network, online user-reviews and a direct link booking engine that could be adapted to book anything from airline flights to vacation rentals to restaurant reservations and ski passes. Now consider if this was integrated in a social network setting that embraced the Google Wave where people comment in a live, shared space on the web discussing and working together with each able to add richly formatted text, photos, videos, maps, each and more. This is the future my friends.
Is there a spot for outside entities to play too? Consider that Google’s main source of revenue is Adwords pay-per-click advertising. The Wall Street Journal posted an article that said 10% of all Google search queries are travel related. My guess is that they will definitely create an environment to maximize AdWords pay-per-click revenue. But the playing field will be very different than simply search. George