Will Google harness its awesome search capacity, plus its Youtube, plus social indicators from a person’s searches to make travel suggestions and shape travel experiences? And book travel too.
We say, yes. They say, “yes” too.
It’s widely accepted that travelers are seriously unhappy with online Travel Agents (OTA’s) – the big-box airline ticket aggregators like Expedia and Priceline.
The reasons are obvious: OTA’s are complex, complicated and have no flexibility to address a traveler’s specific needs.
And while other travel sites pop up almost daily with some useful innovations (think Hipmunk ), the real answer to where travel is going is evident: Google and Facebook are expanding into the travel space with force and foresight.
Hotelmarketing.com reported that at the Mountain Travel Symposium at Snowmass, Colorado, the two giants made it clear that they want to influence “how consumers select places to spend their vacations, and how destinations sell themselves to prospective customers.”
Eric Hawkins, Facebook’s industry manager for travel, reportedly told the symposium of travel professionals that his social media-site is an “underappreciated source of travel bookings” and urged the travel industry to tap into the travel wisdom of Facebook to connect with potential customers.
The viewpoint was more compelling when Hawkins pointed out that it matters less how many friends one has on Faceebook, but who the friends are. In effect, these “quality friends” can be converted to customers and clients, using the targeting tools Facebook makes available.
And it was no surprise that Google’ s Rob Torres, managing director for travel, pointed out that YouTube, owned by Google, is a great tool for the travel industry.
SummitDaily.com reported that Torres touted YouTube’s 1- billion monthly unique users in a reference to what he called Generation C: a group of people with shared mindsets rather than ages.
If you’re not reaching these potential clients by video, you should be, he reportedly said. Travel Video PostCard, which supplies the travel industry with 1-minute Video PostCards agrees. The channel has 5 plus million views and thousands of subscribers.
But Torres went further by saying that Google will harness its awesome search capacity, plus Youtube, plus use social indicators from a person’s searches to make travel suggestions and get more involved in travel.
Which really means, Google will soon take the next step and almost certainly offer travel bookings.